Sometimes when it is time to pray around our dinner table, we take turns “blessing” the people who were involved in the meal we’re eating. In some instances, “God bless” may be cliché, but it doesn’t have to be. For me and my co-travelers at the mealtime table, “God bless” is a dual way of saying “thank you.” First, thank you to God. Second, thank you to each of the persons involved in our meal. Since too many degrees of separation prevent us from doing it ourselves, we ask God to bless them for their work on our behalf.
We ask for God’s blessings while we eat, letting mouthsful and slurpings contribute to the general sounds of praise. Plus, when you’re five years old (as is our youngest member), it’s much easier to be thankful for something while you’re experiencing it than while you’re anticipating experiencing it (and watching it get blubbery cold).
“God bless dad for baking the bread.”
“God bless Helen for making the salads.”
“Thank God for the sun that grows all the plants.”
“God bless Wynn for setting the table.”
“God bless Sloane for peeling the carrots.”
“God bless mom for grocery shopping.”
“God bless the inventors of the slow cooker.”
“God bless the dairy farmers who fed and milked the cows to make milk and butter.” “God bless the goats who gave us the milk for the goat cheese.”
“God bless the butchers who cut the chickens’ heads off.”
Spinoff comments and questions join in the praise, too:
“Mom, how does water get to our sink?”
“It’s actually pretty amazing that some people just grow onions for a living.”
The “God bless”es have, in turn, blessed me for several reasons:
They last a lot longer than the usual perfunctory prayer, sometimes a good distance into the meal. They set an honest and uplifting tone for the entire meal conversation.
They are simple. We tend to pray at the level of the youngest common denominator, which I used to think was “lowest,” but have found is actually “highest.”
If we’re in a silly mood, the “God bless”es have a way of blossoming rather imaginatively.
“God bless the workers who dug out the city water system.”
“God bless the scientists who figured out how to make water treatment systems.”
“God bless the people who invented pasteurization.”
Maybe my favorite thing about the “God bless”es is that “God bless” is not a request but a strong suggestion. It strikes just the right chord: confident humility. Confident because we are already co-workers with God in this world, and therefore, God just might take our suggestions seriously. (Especially when they suggest blessing another person –- now why on earth would God refuse such a suggestion?) And humble because to be reminded of how many lives, hands, work hours we depend on each day is to be reminded of our creatureliness.
And at the end of the day, what is more Love-ly than to enjoy a simple meal as a simple creature of God?
God bless you,