Just about every culture spanning the globe partakes in some sort of thanksgiving benediction before consuming their food. The Japanese say, “itadakimasu,” which is a humble thanks for the food they are about to receive. Muslims quote from the Koran, saying, “Eat of your Lord’s provision, and give thanks to Him.” Before a banquet, the Chinese declare, “Duo xie, duo xie” or, a thousand thanks, a thousand thanks, and Jews and Christians alike open the meal with a blessing to God for the food before them. The world over, people count their blessings.
Regardless of the culture, all thanksgiving traditions have to do with one or more of three components: giving thanks for bounty of the meal, for the sustenance it gives our bodies, and for the communion it provides between those with whom we share it.
You don’t have to be religious to benefit from giving thanks before a meal. Saying grace can be as simple as a momentary pause to focus your attention, either silently or shared openly with others, to create a more mindful mindset. Thornton Wilder once said, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” And in that way, the act of pausing to give thanks for a meal is a blessing in and of itself.
This week, whether you borrow from convention or invent your own approach, say a blessing for the food you eat and observe how it subtly transforms your meal.