This season, when thankfulness is at the forefront of our minds, seemed the perfect time to post a mini-review of Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World (New World Library, August 15, 2013) by Adrian Butash.
This globe-, religion-, culture-, and century-spanning book brings together some 160 mealtime blessings for many reasons, including building a sense of community and connection among those who bow their heads and break bread together and to that for which they give thanks.
Poets, thinkers, and activists join religious figures in articulating our gratitude for daily sustenance, food for the body and soul.
A beautiful book–lovely enough for a special gift–it is also educational, in that background information on the cultural traditions represented is included as context. As with anything, not all of the prayers “spoke” to me, nor embodied my own feelings of gratefulness. But the three that follow did in a profound way.
May we all live with gratitude toward whatever or whomever squares with our beliefs and may we accept and extend the amazing grace bestowed by same.
I begin with the shortest which is, perhaps, the most expansive and my favorite:
Bless our hearts
to hear in the
breaking of bread
the song of the universe.
— Father John Giuliani (b. 1932)
For the order and constancy of nature;
For the beauty and bounty of the world;
For day and night, summer and winter, seed-time and
For the varied gifts of loveliness and use which every
We praise thee.
— John Hunter (1848-1917)
Eternal Spirit of Justice and Love,
At this time of Thanksgiving we would be aware
of our dependence on the earth and on the
sustaining presence of other human beings
both living and gone before us.
As we partake of bread and wine, may we
remember that there are many for whom
sufficient bread is a luxury, or for whom
wine, when attainable, is only an escape.
Let our thanksgiving for Life’s bounty include a
commitment to changing the world, that
those who are now hungry may be filled and
those without hope may be given courage.
— Prayer by the Congregation of Abraxas (1985)