While waiting for my laptop to fire-up at a sandwich shop my peripheral vision caught a couple immediately bow their heads upon sitting down.
Often, I think of complimenting people for praying before a meal especially in public. It’s a typical practice in some parts of our country, but as odd as a two-dollar bill in others. I’m not always sure what to say to those who do it. It may seem to them that I was eavesdropping and, thus, invading their space. Yet, I’d like to be an encouragement and inform them of know how it warms my heart. An “atta-boy/girl” seems appropriate. “Thanks for setting a good example for the rest of us and for your children.”
Being grateful for one’s sustenance is not a bad idea. Most certainly we should thank the one who slaved in the kitchen putting together the meal. I try to remember to do that after the meal. Saying grace, on the other hand, is an acknowledgment that something or someone higher than us has been involved in the process of supplying the food by giving health to the bread winners and providing rain and sunshine needed for the crops to grow. Various places in the Bible mention God’s involvement in the process. Jesus knew that well as He often prayed before breaking bread to eat.
Saying the blessing before a meal is good discipline for children. It teaches them that there’s a lot that goes into putting food on the table. Many hands are on deck from the farmer to the butcher, the baker and then the grocer. As an added bonus, it solicits proper manners. We taught our children they should not “dig in” until the host (their mom) was seated, served and was ready to eat. That often conjured up humorous moments before dessert as their mother fooled with them. She’d readjust her napkin; take a drink and then another; reposition her plate all while we sat there with a piece of pie dripping off our forks waiting and waiting and waiting to put it in our mouths.
One of my favorite pieces of art by Norman Rockwell is his iconic painting of an older lady and her grandson praying before their meal in a diner while two teenage boys, one smoking, are looking on. He may have several other dinner prayers, but this one is embedded in my mind.
Many studies prove that eating together as a family is very positive . . .kids are healthier, they make healthier choices of what they eat, basically because they have to eat what everyone else is eating as opposed to what’s in the fridge, perform better academically and have better relationships with their parents. If we can add a blessing before that, along with waiting until everyone is served, we have a winning plan.
The award winning police drama on CBS, Blue Bloods, might be aiding in the process. Every program has one scene in which the entire family eats together often after a Sunday mass. Sometimes the children are asked or volunteer to say grace.
I’m hoping prayer before meals makes a comeback.
Oh, back to the couple that immediately bowed their heads when they sat down at a sandwich shop. They weren’t praying . . . they were texting. Were they texting their prayer? I didn’t ask.
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