Monday, March 18, 2013

Prayer for a Chicken

Lately, we've been making it a point to say a prayer at dinner time. We had gotten out of the habit, but the boys are old enough to understand the reasons for thanking the Almighty and others for the food that they eat and the other blessings that we enjoy.

The dinner prayer can go two ways. There's the singing kind, courtesy of Michelle's family. As you tap your hands on the table, it goes like this:

"The Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need,
The sun and the rain and the appleseed,
The Lord is good to me..."

Commence rhythmic clapping

"Amen, amen,
Amen, amen, amen

The boys like this one, as you would imagine. We introduced a second, more solemn prayer as well. It's open to variation, but it goes something like this:

"Dear Lord, thank you,
For the food we're about to eat,
For the plants and animals that provided it,
For mommy for cooking it.
We thank you for our family and our friends,
We love you Lord, and we love you Jesus,
In your names we pray, amen."

Not exactly lyrical or rhyming, either, but at least it's sincere.

So, we mix the two up, depending on the children's mood (Spazzy? Go with the solemn prayer.), level of hunger (Famished? Whichever is quicker.) and when we're having dinner (Late? Solemnity prevails.). Also on Fridays as of late, Michelle's been whipping up a fine breakfast-for-dinner feast of scrambled eggs with veggies and pancakes dotted with chocolate morsels. Yum!

Last Friday, when we had finished reciting a prayer for that meal, Nathaniel opened his eyes and asked why we hadn't thanked the chickens – you know, for the eggs.

"Because they're animals," I replied. "We thanked the animals already."

He mulled my answer but did not query further. My guess is he was thinking about when we have chicken for dinner, in which case we certainly want to thank the animal's contribution to sating our appetite, and those chickens that laid eggs that turn into scrambled eggs, fried eggs, pancakes, french toast and other breakfasty stuff. It's a fair point and an understandably difficult distinction for a 4-year-old to make. Since I don't want yet to get into a discussion of dying versus living chickens' contributions to meals, I've not bothered to help clarify it for him.

Tonight, we were having tacos and a fruit salad, and began singing the amen song for our prayer. As we sang, Nathaniel had taken it upon himself to recite the serious prayer, or at least the parts he remembered. Michelle and I stopped singing and asked Nathaniel if he wanted to lead the prayer. He nodded, folded his hands, closed his eyes, and began:

"Dear Lord,
Thank you for the food,
For the plants and animals,
And for the chickens."

May they get their due. Thanks, chickens.

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