About a year ago, someone I quite respect told me about a lovely pre-dinner ritual. My family isn’t affiliated with a church but I like the idea of coming together before eating in a meaningful way. When I was a kid, and to this day when we’re visiting my parents, it was always grace before meals. What my friend suggested was that we take a moment before eating to intentionally settle ourselves down, to bring ourselves into the moment and to prepare to share a meal.
I loved the idea of my family calling ourselves into the present together.
A common scene in many households I’m sure, Owen, Ben, Coraline and I arrive home after work, daycare, and school and though we’re all tired, we’re happy to be home. On a nice day, the kids want to be outside – Ben walks in the front door, leaves his shoes on and moves quickly as though following a direct trail to the back door. Owen and I take turns – one of us goes out with the kids while the other cooks. As we work in our kitchen trying to pull together something delicious and which also includes a majority if not all of the food groups, the dog begs to go outside. The phone rings. The kids come running back in as it has started to rain. The doorbell rings to reveal a young gentleman offering a free estimate on driveway sealing. Finally dinner is ready, the kids are corralled into the bathroom to wash their hands. They’re sent back in and reminded to use soap this time. They bicker about who gets to use which stool and who was there first.
And then, plates filled with food, we sit.
We hold hands around the table and close our eyes. We take deep breaths and settle ourselves down. I like to picture the energy moving through our joined hands, circling around the table. I imagine the colours that are glowing inside each one of us. I plant both feet on the floor and feel the energy of the earth beneath me – I can’t see it but I know it is there. Sometimes Ben starts snoring as in his 2 year old world, when you close your eyes, it’s time to sleep. Plus he’s a little comedian. One of us will gently “ssshhh” him and we’ll resume our practice of becoming present to each other. We release hands and smile at each other. And we eat. We might talk about something from our day we’re grateful for, or some way that we helped someone that day. Invariably a cup of milk will spill. Perfection never follows our moment of settling but for us, it feels something like it.