By Ib’nallah S. Kazi
The act of saying grace over a meal and of blessing the dinner table are sacred rituals practiced for millennia across the globe.
From Ghana to Burma and all the way to the Netherlands, human beings incorporate the daily act of eating into their personal and collective spiritual lives.
The blessing of the meal is a time for giving thanks.
Prayers may be directed to a supreme being, to ancestors, the earth or whatever spiritual agency is believed to be of assistance in securing sustenance. Sometimes family members, employees and employers are thanked for the part they play in sustaining an individual or household.
Still a concern for many to this day is the healthiness of a meal they’re about to eat. Invasion of the body by food-born pathogens is a threat that challenges human beings daily. Therefore, some cultures may include request that the meal be allowed to provide strength and vitality — or at least be rendered free of harm.
Not to be overlooked is the impact upon the psyche of that moment of silence when one’s head is bowed and gaze lowered in recognition of our mutual dependence upon all we consider powerful, holy and beneficent.
The few seconds taken to reconnect to the part of us that remains in constant connection with the Unseen Real opens a “spiritual moment.” And in that moment, we invoke the soul elixir that releases the strengthening, healing, beautifying properties of the meal.
We can use the tradition of saying grace as a “conscious opportunity” to create more of those spiritual moments in our day. We don’t have to limit our spiritual practice to being locked away in a specially outfitted room with dimmed lighting, lots of plump pillows and scented candles.
Let’s bring our practice into our “common spaces” — with their sounds and scents of life at its core. First we take back the kitchen, then the toilet, then the garden.
It all adds up.
Ib’nallah S. Kazi is the Spiritual Director of Newark Center for Meditative Culture and a Spiritual Health & Wellness Coach at The Spirit Centered Life.