I grew up saying grace with my family before every dinner. We would hold hands and pray and at the end we would squeeze whomever’s hands we were holding three times, representing the three words “I love you.” (If you have siblings, you might guess that I didn’t always squeeze my sister’s hand!) This simple tradition has meant enough to me that I have taught it to every child I have cared for since. My sisters continue to do the same with their families.
I love lighting a candle and saying a blessing before starting a meal. I think it helps bring us all together for a moment of silence and communion before sharing our meal together. Taking that time to calm our nervous and digestive systems also helps us relax, slow down and promotes healthy digestion.
I have found this moment before a meal to be a great time to read poetry and little short stories that relate to the seasons, the weather and special occasions. We have special poems and songs for spring, rainy weather, snow, birthdays and gardening. In this way, we also take time to honor the cycle of seasons. I collect these little poems, along with standard blessings and keep some in a little notebook. We also have a few books that we bring out on occasion that have well-loved poems. For a long time, we read a page from Barbara Helen Berger’s book Animalia. These little rituals mean so much to children.
Here are some of my favorite meal blessings and poems. In general, we say the blessing or read a poem and then say “blessings on our family and friends.” Then there is a little time where we can all add our own personal blessings if we want, like “blessings on the cat” or “blessings on the seeds we just planted” or “blessings on the mail carrier.” Most of the blessings I learned through my connection to Waldorf Education. The only one I was able to find the author of is the piece from Shakespeare.
Earth who gives to us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good,
Dear Earth, dear Sun,
By you we live,
Our loving thanks,
To you we give.
Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts. -Shakespeare
The seed and root beneath the Earth,
the willful, growing shoot…
the hopeful bud, flowering blossom
turned to glowing fruit.
We thank the Earth who grew this food
from little bursting seeds,
and the Keeper of the Earth,
whose gifts fulfill our needs.
Blessings on the blossom
Blessings on the fruit
Blessings on the leaves and stems
Blessings on the root.
(This has a tune that goes with it, but I wasn’t able to find a link for you.)
A garden’s bounty before us…
We thank the gardener’s hands,
that tilled the earth, that planted seed,
that nurtured the plentiful land.
In the future, I will write a few more posts with some blessings and poems specific to the seasons and special occasions.