Robin’s Blessings

So, we have a little blessing that we say before eating dinner. We’re not a religious family—Sam and I both tend toward a vague kind of pantheism, a sense that we are all small pieces of something incredibly vast, and that the pattern in its wholeness is sacred and divine. But we reject the notion of a personal God or Hell or any of that jazz. I have more of an urge toward ritual than Sam does: there are plenty of things about the universe that inspire in me a deep sense of awe and wonder, and I like to make whatever small gestures I can toward participating in the holiness I perceive. For a while I thought we might even find a church to go to, like a Unitarian or a Friends group, something very liberal and individualistic. But Sam’s not really a “joiner” and, frankly, it’s nicer to sleep in on Sundays.

Our compromise is that we have some invented rituals we carry out as a family, and one of those is saying “grace.” I had to hunt around for one that was suitably vague, invoking no particular God, and I found it included in a little book called Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World. It’s a prayer composed by Father John Giuliani, director of the Benedictine Grange in Redding, Connecticut. Our very slightly modified version goes like this:

Bless our hearts
that we may hear
in the breaking of bread
the song of the universe.

We say it all together, holding hands. I do feel that there is something sacred about coming together as a family for the evening meal, and I wanted a small ritual to underscore that, a little moment of mindfulness and gratitude. And it’s worked out really well, it’s become a piece of our family identity. Children are innately ritualistic, I think, and the boys have embraced “saying the blessing” every night—to the point that they will protest if for some reason we try to skip it.

At the same time, though, Robin likes to play around with the words. Sometimes instead of invoking “the song of the universe” it will be “the song of the Power Rangers” or some such. And the other night he gave us:

Bless our hearts
I love you
You can eat noodles
Whenever you want
I love you

Which I thought was so sweet and hilarious that it deserves to be documented for posterity. “You can eat noodles / Whenever you want!”

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