Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saying Grace

I grew up in a family that was schizophrenic about saying grace at the table. Basically, we didn't. Devout churchgoing folk that we were, we never said grace before we ate. Or at least, not except at lunch on Sunday, and that was as much of a concession as my Mom was able to wring out of my Dad.

See, it just so happened that my Dad grew up in a family -- a deeply devout churchgoing family -- where they never said grace. For whatever reason, they just didn't. And so when my folks got married, my Dad insisted that he was not going to start saying grace at the table just to go through the motions. My father is as genuinely and sincerely committed a Christian as you're ever going to meet, but he has this thing -- I suppose it's a stubborn mainline Protestant thing -- about not piling up empty words or practices just for the sake of appearances.

To my mother, who grew up in a devout churchgoing family where they did say grace, all this was horrifying. The compromise my parents arrived at eventually was that we would say grace once a week, when we sat down for lunch after church on Sunday.

So I grew up pretty much not saying grace. I grew up into an adult who is deeply committed to Christ, who is in church pretty much every Sunday, who has served in various positions of church leadership... but to whom it would not ordinarily occur even to think of saying grace. Saying grace? I'd be about as likely to sacrifice pigeons with a flint knife on a stone altar. Not because I don't believe; quite the opposite! But because the habit never got a foothold within me.

Until these past couple of months, with my current health problems. I have to watch my diet closely. I also find, for the very first time in my life, that when I sit down to eat I say grace. I haven't quite figured it out yet. But I'm saying grace. Regularly. Easily.

Perhaps sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks.

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