Mealtimes offer us many opportunities for devotion at home. Some use a silent prayer before eating while other families or groups rely upon a memorized blessing. Others hold hands and sing a familiar hymn of praise to the Creator. Still others take a creative route and improvise prayers that grow naturally out of the moment at hand.
In Grace at Table, Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City and author of 30 books, searches for ways to pray at table by looking elsewhere in our life and our experiences. She wonders why saying grace has vanished.
Schaper looks here and there — at dinner parties, potluck suppers, Chinese food in China during an international women's meeting in Beijing, a wedding dinner, the Eucharist meal, and a Tupperware party. She discusses eating on the road and counting calories.
What do we learn about grace at table from these excursions? Many of us do not partake of this ritual of blessing the food before us because we don't take the time to thank God for all we have been given. We can only play a few notes on the piano because we stopped our lessons and no longer practice.
We also don't say grace because we don't feel vitally connected to our food or to all the providers of our meals. Schaper suggests we become more spirit-sensitive to food, God, and the sacred nature of chow. Grace at table can be both playful and creative if we see it not as a duty but as a loving response to the bounties before us. Saying grace is one of those spiritual pauses that refreshes.