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Replacing “MORE MORE MORE” with Nature and Thankfulness

Replacing “MORE MORE MORE” with Nature and Thankfulness

One of the simplest connections my children and I have made with natural world and the global community has been through a simple blessing ritual before our meals. It’s so basic it sounds silly written down, but I was amazed at how it feels so I thought I’d try sharing.

Previously, I’d felt compelled to separate my family from any hint of religious influence in our own lives. I have been so upset by harmful activities in the name of the religion in recent times that I cringed at hints of religion in my family. “Did my child just say, ‘Baby Jesus’ Birthday??’ GULP!!”

Yet, after I stripped away that knee-jerk reaction, I concluded that there’s something awfully hollow in a life devoid of spiritual connection and thankfulness. And, without an overt ritual, it’s been hard for me to consistently remember to be thankful and connect with the natural world. So, my best counter to the distasteful “more more more” mentality in popular culture has been to recognize the place that the natural world plays in our lives and be “thank thank thankful” for it every day.

The children love our ritual and will not let us eat without it. Even baby Chloe, gesturing wordlessly, insists that we bless our food before we eat.

So, here’s how it works:

- Every lunch and dinner, we try to make a ceremony of our meal.

- I wrote a simple blessing on a piece of watercolor paper and the children painted it with cheerful bright colors:

- Before the meal, we set the table and lay out our blessing.

- We all gather at the table (often it’s just me, baby Chloe and Jasmine) and hold hands.

- We take two or three deep breaths. (This simple part of the ritual amazed me. Things can be so hectic scurrying about to get the food on the table, and when we finally all sit down together, our three shared breaths completely change the dynamic of the entire meal. I feel calm and happy, ready to give thanks.)

- We recite our blessing.

- We look at the food on our plates and each of us gives thanks for something on the plate so that we all understand where our food comes from and have a sense of empathy with those who provided it. For example, if we have broccoli, we thank the sun for shining down to make it grow and the people who harvested the broccoli in the fields. Or perhaps we are thankful to one another for harvesting the lettuce from our garden, or the fellow at the farmer’s market who grew and then sold us our beets. If we are eating an animal or an animal product (cheese, eggs, milk …) we might thank the creature for making such a big sacrifice for our meal.

- Then we eat.

That simple. And I’m not kidding when I say the kids love it. Sometimes, in the middle of the meal, one or both of them will request that we do the whole thing all over again, which again starts a discussion of the various parts of our meal, and what sorts of creatures we seem to be thanking more frequently.

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Hilary Stamper

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11 comments

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7:47AM PST on Jan 14, 2009

This is so lovely - thank you for sharing!

12:32PM PST on Jan 8, 2009

Will you not allow your children to believe in King Jesus if they wish? He does enlighten us, and children have the best faith. He said, "If you don't become like a little child in your faith, you will never enter the kingdom of God."
Christians believe that God is love, as Saint John stated in his epistle. Love gives us all things good--the created Earth and its bounty, beautiful wildlife and nature, and the love that we share. Christians believe He is the source of all love, and that He creates and sustains all life.

It is good to spurn worldly materialism/consumerism and to give thanks to Love for all His blessings.

Regards, God bless,
David

2:15AM PST on Jan 3, 2009

Love it!! Thanx for sharing. I have 4 kids 12, 8, 7 and 4. Can't wait to share this with them :) Small things like this and inspirational people like you are what will fuel a beautiful future.

10:22AM PST on Dec 29, 2008

I am so glad everyone has enjoyed this post. As I mentioned, it's been absolutely wonderful for us. I must upload a video of baby Chloe demanding that we do the blessing. She is so funny.

8:30PM PST on Dec 27, 2008

Thanks for the nice post. I want to do this with my future children someday. :)

12:07PM PST on Dec 26, 2008

Correction: You are free to believe in what you wish.

12:03PM PST on Dec 26, 2008

You are free to believe in what you with. And to bring up your children with what you feel makes you complete. I do like your ceremony. I believe but I do not choose to have a religious denomination to tell me how. In other words a church. I believe there is a heaven(there is too much proof there is a after life). I do not believe in hell. People make their own hell here, and unfortunately drag innocent people into it. This is how I pray ..."Mother God, Father God, Spirit Guide and Angle's"...then thank them for my day no matter how it goes. I then ask for tomorrow to be just as good or better. I guess if I labeled my self with a religion the closes would be Wicca. The created nature is our friend, healer, and so much more. I believe we should do what we can to protect, and care for it. Guess in the end we got here, created, we where given one place to live, this planet. And I don't believe we are the only one's. God just did not come about. I think "God" is who, and what one believes in. Thank you for sharing your beliefs.

6:39AM PST on Dec 26, 2008

Hey hilary1

Loved your post!
Specially the thing about the praying that's directed to mother earth instead of god.
Have no problem with praying to god but I'm convinced that if he ever was the one who created mankind he must have been ( at one point ) scared shitles( pardon my french) when he saw the thing he'd created ( we more then often don't deserve a grammy award).
I'd like to think he handed the stick over to mother earth and hope he'll return someday, when man kind see's the error of his ways ( won't hold my breath on that).
Mind me I'm not without flaws!!
Gonna take in your prayer and make it mine, loved it!!

have a great Holiday everyone!!

Carla

6:06PM PST on Dec 24, 2008

Giving thanks is a wonderful and powerful thing. I find myself also giving thanks while preparing the meal and smiling thinking of my love for the people who will consume it. And while I personally separate myself from any religion that does not mean I separate myself from belief, perhaps this is from where your child was speaking.

Peace and love to you and your family.

9:07AM PST on Dec 24, 2008

Christmas to me is about connecting... with friends and family, and with nature. But not with crowded malls and consumerism.

Thank you for this peaceful post.

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