How my family says grace without bringing capital R Religion into it

November 18 | Guest post by Helen Jane Hearn
Saying grace
By: Zechariah JudyCC BY 2.0
I've always struggled with whether to pray before dinner. I wanted a way to say thanks for the food and acknowledge Ms. Earth's contribution to our meal without bringing capital R Religion into it.

Something a little more than,
"Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub."

And something a little less than,
"And these thy gifts from thy bounty…"

As these things happen, we found our groove naturally.

Every night before dinner, we hold hands around the table, the oldest, the youngest (well, sometimes the youngest, James and I. We list the people we're thankful for.

The oldest usually adds herself a few times.
(I'd add her a few times too.)

I've been on the lookout though, for non-religious-pre-dinner thank you's that bring in the food, the animals, the vegetables and the community we're going to share and I'm coming up short.

All the pre-meal graces seem to be very religious.
And that doesn't quite meet my needs.

It doesn't make it any easier that to help all our guests feel more comfortable, I replaced "grace" with "toasts." Toasts keep folks of all faiths at ease. But they're not exactly the sentiment I'm looking for, you dig?

So I've written my own non-religious pre-meal thank you graces. They're not toasts, they're not prayers (exactly) they're just a way to experience gratitude for the meal, the community and the nourishment you're about to share…

We end our grace with a hearty "AMEN."
It feels right to our family.

But I'd also recommend a hearty, "THANK YOU" or "YO HO HO."
Actually, kicking off the meal with a "YO HO HO," sounds kind of awesome.


We are so grateful for this food,
it restores our strength,
it heals our bodies,
it fuels our brains.

We are so grateful for this time,
to renew our spirit,
to share our trials,
to find new strength.


All that we have is a gift.
May we be thankful.
May we celebrate.
May we share.


For our friends,
for our families,
for our meal,
we are thankful.

For life,
for healing,
for joy,
we are thankful.


Thanks to the earth for the soil.
Thanks to the sky for the rains.
Thanks to the farmers for the harvest.
Thanks to our friends for the love.


May this meal we're about to share help our spirits shine brighter.
May this brightness send darkness away and
warm the hearts of strangers.