When I was at USC, the students and I developed the pre-meal ritual of stopping for a few moments to silently look around the group, making slightly prolonged eye contact and smiling with three or four people in turn, as a way of communicating to each one, “I’m glad you’re here, and that we have food to eat and a safe place eat it, and I’m grateful for the wonder of human consciousness, which enables us to share this moment”.
Because our fledgling community here in Cincinnati includes so many post-Christians who miss the rhythms of church life, last night I felt emboldened to read this humanist prayer just before we started looking around. To my mind, at least, it worked quite nicely.
Before we share this meal, let us remember how it came to us.
This food was born of warm sunlight, rich soil, and cool rain.
As it nourishes our bodies and minds, may we be grateful to those who cultivated it, those who harvested it, those who brought it to us, and those who prepared it.
And as we eat, and what was once separate from all of us becomes part of each of us,
may we also be grateful for what we here have in common and for what brings us together.
We all begin life utterly dependent on others, and most of us will end our lives in much the same way, and every good work we accomplish involves helping others and being helped by others in turn. So then, our gratitude in this moment is true and common sense.
When it was over, somebody in the group said “Amen!”, which got a laugh even though it made perfect sense.
Used at the end of a prayer or a statement to express assent or approval.