I am the father of two teenagers. That means that no matter what I say or do, no matter how wonderful, brilliant or inspired it may be, it will almost always be ignored, rejected, or written off.
It is not uncommon for my children to respond to my requests with grumbles, rolled eyes, or the ever popular question, “Why?”
I love my children dearly, but they are in that part of life where they are trying to figure out who they are, where they fit in, and how they will be in the world.
An important part of forming their individual identity is to differentiate from their parents, to do things and think things not quite like the way they have always been taught.
It is a good and necessary thing, I know – psychologists have long said so – and for the most part I celebrate it, but when I have to explain every little thing and can never ever be given the benefit of the doubt, it is frustrating.
Again, I love my children, and for the most part they are absolutely wonderful, but every once in a while couldn’t they be just a little less like teenager-ish?
As a parent of teenagers, I have learned to pick my battles. I won’t get everything my way, so which issues are important enough for me to dig my heels in and insist on it being my way? One of those things has been saying grace before meals. It’s a small thing but it is important in my eyes.
I don’t insist on praying before meals in a restaurant, I don’t feel it is necessary to pray before having a snack. But when we are at home, sitting down at the table together for a meal, I do insist on saying a brief prayer of thanks before beginning.
My reasons are quite simple. It’s not because asking a blessing on the food somehow changes the nature of the food, makes it better or healthier or “holy” or whatever. It has more to do with recognizing and acknowledging the God’s presence in our lives and our presence in God’s world.
By pausing to give thanks to God for the meal we are about to eat, we become conscious of that which exists beyond us and it connects us to the larger reality of God and others in our world.
We are just one small part of the universe and although we have an important part to play, but we are not the end all and be all; there is more than just us.
Pausing to pray before a meal helps to give me perspective. So much has gone into bringing this food to this table, so many have been involved, from the ones who grew and raised it, to the ones who packaged it, to the ones who marketed and sold it, to the ones who prepared it. And through it all, there is God, who gives life to the world and everything and everyone in it.
We are all connected. And saying grace before a meals helps me to remember that and keep me in my proper place.
I am part of a larger reality, I am a part of that which God has willed and created.
I am not the one ultimately in control, there are forces beyond me and my powers at play in the world I live in.
Saying grace before meals fills me with awe and humbles me. Even more than having teenagers.
Rev. Brian Krushel, Pastor/Priest/Minister for the North Thompson Pastoral Charge, in Barriere and Clearwater, B.C.