One afternoon, shortly after Easter, I had just gotten my five-year-old granddaughter off the bus and we were relaxing at her kitchen table enjoying a snack. Suddenly, she quite excitedly started telling me about going to a very big, really beautiful, church where she saw the priest bless the Easter food. I responded by saying how wonderful that must have been and just let the moment be full with the memory.
Then, I said casually, “You know how when you came to our house for a meal and we go around the table saying something we’re grateful for and then we thank the animal for its life, for the meat we’re about to eat?”
“Well, I think of that as a kind of blessing. So, anytime you want to remember how thankful you are for all the good food you have, you can offer a blessing too. Just fold your hands like this and say something like, ‘Thank you God for all this good food I’m about to eat and thank you chicken, (or whatever the animal is), for your life so I can grow big and strong.’”
A pause and I could see the wheels turning. “You mean I can bless the food?”
“Of course,” I answered.
And, before I knew it, she jumped up and pointed with strong resolve to the cupboard where her and her younger brother’s dishes were kept.
“Quick, Grandma! Get a bowl and put water in it and get me a spoon – a big grown-up spoon.” Dutifully, I did as I was ordered as I could sense something quite special was swirling around in that sweet heart of hers. It’s why I call her Sweetness. So, I filled the small plastic bowl, one with a suction bottom, half full of water and placed it on the table in front of her along with a large spoon. Meanwhile, she ran to get some Polish pastries she and her dad had made that she said, “didn’t taste so good.”
Then, seating herself before the bowl and spoon, she paused, folded her hands, closed her eyes, and prayed, “Please God bless this food so it will taste good by tomorrow. My daddy and I tried to make it good but it didn’t work.” She then took the spoon and half flung, half dripped, water over the pastries.
“There,” she said, quite satisfied and with unwavering assurance, “I’m sure they’ll taste good by tomorrow.”
“Yikes!” I thought. “Now, what do I do?” Besides, I rationalized, the pastries could taste better by tomorrow, right? Miracles do happen!
Finally, I arrived on something I thought might save her heart-felt blessing. I said, “Well, honey, I don’t know if they’ll taste better by tomorrow but your blessing was very sweet and, you know, I think that just you and your dad making something together, just like when you and your mom do, is probably the biggest blessing.”
Woops! Furled brow!
“No, Grandma! I blessed the food. I know it will taste better tomorrow!”
“Okay, honey. I’m quite sure you’re right.”
“Grandma, let’s play now!” Blessing time was over.
I didn’t see Sweetness until a week later and in the annals of a five-year-old’s memory that’s a lifetime so I never did inquire if the pastries had, indeed, tasted better the next day. Instead, I chose to believe simply that one of those unexplained miracles had surely transpired and to hold what had come to me to be the true blessings of that afternoon…
One of God’s beloved children had learned that, with a heartfelt prayer, she, too, could bless that which she felt was most in need of blessing in her small world, be it on that day it was the Polish pastries. No, it was not in a big beautiful church or in some other special surroundings. It was not offered by a special person sprinkling holy water from a coveted chalice.
It was at a modest kitchen table offered by a five-year-old’s praying hands. All that was needed was a small plastic kiddy bowl half-filled with I’m-sure-it-must-have-been-holy water from the tap and, oh yes, a grown-up spoon. I do believe it was…
God’s true blessing.