Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bless This Food

I am working on making friends with food, as I have been writing about off and on.  This week, I am deepening my practice by saying some kind of blessing before I eat.

Mostly, I have tended to start meals with thoughts like, "I shouldn't be eating this," or "Naughty, Naughty!"  Every morsel is labeled  - crap, junk, bad carb, bad fat - and I am labeled, too.  Bad Fattie.  Unless it's vegetables.  Then, I'm off the guilt hook.  But, since one cannot subsist on vegetables alone, I am left with years of meals, day in and day out, in which I am instantly stressed out and devalued before I even put fork to food.

Obviously, eating has not felt very sacred, or divine, or pleasant, or even just tolerable.  The reality that I have been oblivious to in all of my crazy diet mentality is that our food is absolutely sacred.  Hundreds of hands worked to bring my apple to the table.  People with names planted and harvested the grain for my slice of bread.  Someone (or many ones) milled it, mixed it, shaped it, baked it, sliced it, packaged it, shipped it, shelved it, and checked it out to me, and here I am grumbling about how "bad" it is! What planet have I been living on? That morsel of food, whatever it is, is good, in really basic, fundamental ways, and I am grateful for it.  Food is not a curse - it is a life-giving, nourishing, important, tangible blessing that connects me to everyone else on the planet.  It is time for me to change the way I see food - it is truly a gift.

I am thinking about ways to say "thank you" - to God, to the people who have worked for my food, to the food itself.  I am thinking about ways to bless both myself and the food, and all of the life and living that went in to my food.

Here is a Buddhist prayer I found at this site:

Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space
combine to make this food.
Numberless beings gave their lives
and labors that we may eat.
May we be nourished
that we may nourish life.

I would love to hear other prayers or blessings people use.  Do you have spiritual or religious traditions or customs around blessing your food?  Do you have favorite ways to say thank you?  Growing up, we only said "grace" on special occasions, so my blessing memory banks are kindof limited.  I would love to gather a collection of blessings, and pass them on.  Thank you for sharing yours!


Grace said...

A table blessing is something we always do, even when I'm not feeling it (for some of the reasons you listed, and others, too!)

These are some that we have used over the years:

"Blessing on the blossom, blessing on the root. Blessing on the leaf and stem, blessing on the fruit." (We don't use this anymore because it's popular in Waldorf circles and we don't do Waldorf anymore.)

"Oh God that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. " -William Shakespeare

"Bless, O Lord, the meat and drink of thy servants, for thou art holy, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." This is our current, and overall most consistent, mealtime blessing. It was the one my parents used when I was a child. It comes from the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Anonymous said...

this post reminds me of something i think about while i cook (my family isnt particularly religious so we dont pray before meals) We used to sing this at gril scout camp before meals:

The back of the bread is the flour;
The back of the flour is the mill;
and the back of the mill
is the wind and the rain and the farmers will.