‘God is great, God is Good, Let us thank Him for our food’ was the daily grace at mealtimes in the 1950s in America. The dining/eating habits of many, dare I say most, western people have changed though over the past 50 years from regular family mealtimes to the ubiquitous fast food or eating on the run and certainly not at specified times! This phenomenon was even a topic of one of the Dutch classes I took. Questions like, ‘How long do you prepare for a meal – more than 1/2 an hour? Do you prepare a meal or bring it in? Do you eat in front of the TV or at a table? How long do you take eating – more than 1/2 an hour?’ Being 70, my answers were archaic compared to my classmates, who were 18-25 years old.
Mealtimes in the Convent are – yes! – sacred. The idea that God provides us food to nourish and keep our body healthy is still upheld and revered. In fact, there is silence at the meals so this fact can be savored and meditated upon. Here prayers of thanksgiving to God for the food are sung and said both at the beginning and at the end of the mealtime. There is time to recognize the goodness of God who provides for our bodily needs each day. It took a bit of getting used to, to make sure I did not drop my silverware or bang my plate and disturb the peace and quiet. I felt a little like Maria in ‘The Sound of Music,’ but I have now discovered in the peace and silence a new gratefulness while actually savoring and acknowledging the food I am being given. I might add the food is delicious as well as
healthy; the kitchen sister is a wonderful cook and there are marvelous treats from time to time! I am a loved child of God; the body I live in is being wonderfully cared for and I have found time to be thankful for it.