Cleaning Up: My Postprandial Grace

I gave up saying grace at the table some number of years ago. I didn't like how the practice could unintentionally appear sanctimonious by excluding others or cause them to feel awkward; other family members grew reluctant; and for a while I was angry at God for how things turned out and didn't feel like talking.

My earlier orientation toward thankfulness and gratitude hasn't changed, only the way in which I express them. Frequent little toasts, "To you," "To us," "To the beautiful evening," "To your big day tomorrow," "To the garden and the gardener," are minor prayers of sorts, linking my simple thoughts, appreciations and thankful awarenesses to the grander concepts of gratitude, abundance and community. But it is when I'm at my kitchen sink where the expression of my thankfulness takes a more intimate turn.

Some of the most sacred moments of my life happen amid a dim hushed house, warm soapy water and a dishcloth. After all guests are gone I stand at the sink like a flamingo (right foot firmly placed on inner thigh above left knee, my signature genuflect since childhood) thinking through the time we've just spent, flooded with the sense of connectedness and in awe at how my life has been touched by such wonderful people. The higher the stacks of plates and glasses and the more baked-on the schmutz in the pots and pans, the more time to settle into these private devotions.

During these times my hopes silently join in again with those of our companions for health (our own and those we love,) prosperity, and acceptance. I remember and swallow up more of the lingering good medicine of our earlier laughter. I'm grateful that our table contains far more than enough to share. And, in all reality, I'm often blessed by the fact that our friends and family most often come 30, 40 or 90 miles to our countryside home to share a meal.

All alone, these private check-ins have a way of pointing out my earlier angry short-sightedness and the truth that things turned out pretty great after all, even far greater than I had imagined. My former crossness melts away to humility.

So, if you come to our house for a visit, please don't think I'm rushing your exit if I decline your kind offer to help clean up. It's just that when you leave, I'll be saying grace.

Wine for Each Course = A Happy Heart and Lots of Glasses


  1. Beautifully said! Kate @kateiscooking

  2. What a lovely post! I enjoy doing the dishes at the end of a large get together, too. I guess I'm doing the same thing, but I didn't realize it. Buzzed!

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  4. A beautifully written post, Pam.

    I deleted my previously (over-long) comment, because your post inspired one of my own:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on dishes as a form of prayer. Very special.

  5. I love this. I don't say grace at the table anymore either, and am not really sure why. I just stopped. But feeling thankful, reflecting, and talking to God afterwards...that's something I could get into. Thanks for your thoughts & words!


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