Once the guest has eaten and drunk at your table, the guest becomes kin…beggar or enemy, friend or chief, if they knock on your door, it will open; if they seek your shelter, it will be given, and if they ask for hospitality, give them your bread and wine…for who knows when you may need the help of a fellow human? – Keri Hulme
IN TODAY’S SESSION…
Your child is bringing home a table tent that they created in Creating Home today. One side of the table tent features a grace or table blessing. We will say grace in Creating Home whenever we share food together, for the rest of this program. We discussed that grace can be both a blessing and a way to express thanks. We also talked about the similarities and differences between activities we participate in with our family and our faith family. If you use the terms “faith family” and “faith home,” this will reinforce the meaning of these terms for your child.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about…
Saying a grace or blessing before a meal is a way of saying "thank you." You might wish to discuss with your child who or what they think should be thanked before eating. Do we thank God or Spirit for the gifts that we are given? Do we thank the plants or animals for being our food? Does it matter who we are thanking? Why is it important to be grateful?
Bear in mind that different members of your family may well have different opinions on this subject, and that it isn’t necessary for everyone to agree in order to share in share saying grace together.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Try…
A Family Ritual
Your family may or may not have a ritual of saying grace together before meals. If this ritual is new to you, you might like to use the grace which appears on the table tent that your child brought home. Try holding hands and taking a deep breath together before saying the words. Or, you might like to sing a blessing rather than just saying it. Here is one such blessing, sung to the tune of the Tallis Canon, "Oh We Give Thanks." (MP3 file)
Oh, we give thanks for fruit and grain,
For earth and air and sun and rain,
For those with feathers, fur or feet
Who make it so that we may eat.
A Family Adventure
One way of showing gratitude for the food that we have is to share with those who do not have enough to eat. As a family you could go through your pantry and cupboards to cull non-perishable items which you can donate to a local food bank, or go on a family shopping expedition to buy food to donate. You may also be able to volunteer your time with a food bank and help to sort and/or distribute food.
Many Unitarian Universalist families practice saying grace as a spiritual practice at home. There are many resources for graces online. Here are a few books you might also consider:
Rejoice Together: Readings for Family, Individual and Small-Group Worship, 2nd edition edited by Helen R. Pickett (Boston: Skinner House, 2005)
Earth Prayers From around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth by Elizabeth Roberts (HarperOne, 1991)
Available from the UUA online bookstore are Gift of Faith by Jeanne Nieuwejaar (Boston: Skinner House, 2002) and the Unitarian Universalist Association pamphlet, Family Prayers by Irene Prager.
Three more books offering reflections about and suggestions for rituals in family homes are The Intentional Family: Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties by William J. Doherty (Perseus Books, 1997); Putting Family First: Successful Strategies for Reclaiming Family Life in a Hurry-Up World by William J. Doherty and Barbara Carlson (Holt Paperbacks, 2002); and The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy (Running Press, 2003).