Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saying Grace: a beginning point

In our family, every meal begins in the same manner. As we gather at the table, hands are joined and grace is said. The words are always the same-- a prayer that was taught to my mother when she was a child and that she taught her children.

“For food, for health, for loving care,
For friends and blessings everywhere,
Dear [God]*, we thank you. Amen.”

Saying Grace is a beginning point for inviting God’s presence in our eating. We say “thank you” for the food which we are about to consume. For many of us, saying a prayer at the beginning of a meal may be the only time that our faith “mindfully” intersects with our eating. Beyond those grace-saying moments, do we think about how our faith connects to the actual food that we put in our mouths?

The answers are as individual and multi-layered as each person who wrestles with questions of faith. How do our religious beliefs influence how that food comes to be on our plates? The answers involve issues of how we eat, what we eat, and with whom we eat.

More and more I am convinced that there are fundamental issues of faith involved in how food comes to our table, but for many us, convenience and price trump values. For example, it is cheap and easy to run through the drive-thru and pick up a burger. Yet, how many of us have thought about what that choice might mean for our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. I heard someone suggest recently that the meat in such a burger might have come from animals raised in a foreign country where persons are dying from hunger-related causes because all the prime farmland is used for meat which is then exported. I haven‘t verified whether this is a “real“ problem or not, but the issue for me is that I don’t whether or not this is a true story.

And so, as one of my New Year‘s Resolutions I plan to spend more time exploring the layers of this question in my own life: How does my faith intersect with my eating? I welcome your thoughts and comments.

**My mother taught us to say “Father,” but in the interest of non-sexist language, I have taught my own daughter to use the word “God.”

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