Saying thanks together at meal times is a spiritual practice that allows families to pause for a moment, feel connected with each other and have a moment of reverence for something larger during their busy day. Unitarian Universalist author, Betsy Hill Williams shared her thoughts about starting a practice of saying grace in her home: “what started out as a routine formality soon changed. As we held hands and looked in to each other’s eyes (even for so brief a moment as our simple home-grown grace), I found myself truly feeling blessed- glimpsing the divine as it sat around our table, feeling the power of our love for each other and gratitude for our lives together. Over the years of nightly repetition that feeling, which I have come to recognize as an experience of the holy, has never diminished.”
As in Betsy’s household, some Unitarian Universalists have an established practice of saying grace. For others, saying grace happens occasionally, or not at all. I want to help you experiment with saying grace, if you don’t do so already. As Unitarian Universalists, we have lots of options when it comes to saying grace. The challenge for us religious liberals is coming up with pleasing ways to give thanks that don’t rely solely on traditional Christian theology.
I’ve included a couple of simple table graces below:
“May we have grateful hearts, and may we be mindful of the needs of others. Amen.”
“It is a blessing to be. It is a blessing to be here. It is a blessing to be here now. It is a blessing to be here now together.”
Oh, the Earth is good to me, and so, I thank the Earth, for giving me the things I need, the sun, the rain and the apple seed, the earth is good to me.
adapted by Pat Kahn from a song, “Johnny Appleseed”
God is great, God is good,
Let us thank (her) (him) for our food.
Our family grace is to hold hands and say, “Thank you for the food,” in as many languages as are known by people at the table. Common variations include thanks to the farmworkers, truckers, people who invented whatever cuisine it is, Mommy or Mama for cooking, etc. Rev. Amy Zucker-Morgenstern
Of course, it really doesn’t matter what’s said. The important thing is to say something. To quote Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”