by Linda Ross Swanson, M.A., C.T. on October 12th, 2013

Dr. Joan Borysenko, in one of the selections in her lovely day book, A Pocketful of Miracles, suggests we spend time in gratitude for all the labor, effort, and industry it takes to bring food to our plates. Acting on her directive, one day, I decide this will be my before meal prayer. I’ll imagine how the food actually ended up in front of me—from the tilling of the soil, to the harvesting and bringing to market. I decide to thank everyone. And, so, my prayer began.
              Dear God, I thank the farmer for tilling the soil, for planting the seeds, for irrigating the fields. I thank the harvesters and the machinery makers, the engineers and equipment designers, the mechanics, the oil drillers, the tankers, service station owners and attendants. Oh, and the truck drivers, and the architects that design the stores, and the builders, electricians, plumbers, tile workers, framers, roofers, window installers, stockers lining the shelves, grocery clerks, floor sweepers, parking lot creators, security folks. I can’t forget the food packers, and the people making the packaging and designers of the labels, and the people operating the machinery to label the cans and packaging. I forgot the cannery workers…Holy crap! I’ll never eat lunch if I continue this prayer.
            Somewhere in the development of my tome, the focal point--food is lost! You try it and see how far you get!
I end my prayer by acknowledging that God knows how many people it takes to bring sustenance to my plate. I thank them all en masse and said Amen.
               The type of prayer I intentioned before eating lunch might work best as a chanting meditation after a meal.  Much like saying a Catholic Rosary, there’s something sweet and innocent about tiny, everyday gratitudes.
I’m reminded of Barbara, a lady camper outside of St. Andre’s Church who taught everyone within hearing distance how to pray. Her litanies were for and about everyone and everything. She’d finger the beads on a rosary, each one a prayerful thanksgiving. Expressing her gratitude, she prayed for peace, for children, for safety, for smiles, for chickens, for gloves, for hot coffee, for socks, for dry weather, for bathrooms, for toothpicks. There were no exclusions.
                My suggestion, if you don’t already have some,  purchase a set of prayer beads. Use each bead as a singular gratitude or joy no matter how minuscule. Be creative. I found a website called   www.BeadHereNow. They sell gem-like meditation beads. Or, you can craft your own by stringing beads together, crocheting or knitting strings of knots. If you’re in a pinch, give the Divine a smile--string some macaroni together. Prayers on pasta work as well as anything traditional. The idea is to chant your awe about dinky things in your world. Start with macaroni. Bring yourself to present moment awareness by your gratitudes big and small.

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