Before we embark on any meal, particularly dinner, when we have guests, Sunday lunch or special occasions, Grace should be said.  At least thats how I recall the protocol to have been when I was growing up.  We took turns at saying grace and learnt many through Sunday School and at home but there was one that seemed most used-

For food and family, faith and freedom, thanks be to thee O Lord, Amen

It was this grace that sprung to mind when I was looking for a title as it is about food and family (and friends) and I am grateful that throughout my life I have always had supplies of these, not always plentiful but adequate for my needs at the time.

Life changes over time and grace is still said on special occasions, when we have visitors or when it feels appropriate.  Funny thing is, more often that not it is now said in Maori.  The easy version that my children learnt at Kindy-

Whakapainga e nga kai, e te Atua, Amene

Both of these graces are easy to rattle off and require little effort or thought which makes one wonder if we still really mean it.

Just a couple of nights ago we cooked an Urban Hangi (recipe to come) for my son Riki to enjoy on his last days of holiday with us in Brisbane.  Just before the meal was ready  Riki stood beside me and offered to give the Karakia Kai (prayer for food).  What was I expecting? The one he knew from kindy, a token gesture –   here is what he said –

Kua horahia te kai, Na nga Atua i homai, Tane Mahuta, Haumiatiketike, Rongomatane, Tangiroa, Kia Ora

Translated – This food has been laid out before us, Given to us by the Gods, Tane God of the forest, Haumai God of cultivated food, Rongo God of kumara (sweet potato) and peace, Tangaroa God of the sea, Thank you all.

Do we mean it? Yes we do.

We have been lucky to never go to bed hungry or to go without meals.  There has always been enough. Not always a feast and certainly not always gourmet meals but always adequate unto the day and for this I do feel gratitude to the sources of this food even if grace goes unsaid.

On a spiritual level God, Nga Atua, the Earth Mother or whatever higher being/s you revere I am grateful that the crops flourish.  On an economic level I am thankful for the skills of the farmers and agricultural workers,  and the system that allows me to earn money to purchase from them. On a practical level the friends, family and strangers who share their excess freely with us and others in times of hardship to you all I give my thanks.

For food and family, faith and freedom, thanks be to thee O Lord, Amen


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