Saying Grace

Terry Hoyland is today’s visiting writer. See his bio in “Visiting Writers.”

A while back my wife and I were at a local Mexican restaurant, enjoying our chips and salsa, talking about this and that, and waiting for our dinner order to arrive.  This little restaurant serves wonderful Mexican food—food to be savored and honored for its careful and expert preparation.  Dining is a time of great gratitude for what God has given us in life.  When we come to food we bring a thankful attitude, recognizing that God feeds us in many ways.

As we were eating we couldn’t help but notice at the next table an increasingly common phenomenon.  A family—wife, husband and two children—was being served its food and the man was talking on his cell phone.  Snippets of this one-way conversation drifted over us like a great cloud of business fog—order numbers, delivery dates, availability, backorders, UPS delivery, out-sourcing, the whole catalog of marketing, distribution, and sales vocabulary.  The man continued talking as his family ate silently.  I am sure his food cooled considerably because the conversation went on for many minutes.

Author Bill Hybels writes about how we often go through life packing things into our already overcrowded lives.  We leave for work without breakfast with the family, work late, make deals on the cell phone, all the while living by the mantra of “time is money, time is money,” the litany of the modern age. I wondered if our unintended dinner companion at the next table ever slowed down, whether he slept at night, whether he had any idea of the value of honoring his family by devoting time to really breaking bread with them, or whether he ever really engaged them in meaningful and intimate dialogue.  We observed the wife and children eating in apparently glum silence as this man negotiated with an unseen business associate at the other end of his “wireless” line.

I thought of Hybels’ question, “where does the still small voice of God fit into our hectic lives?  When do we allow him to lead and guide and correct and affirm one another?”  My wife and I looked at each other and I uttered this simple prayer:  “Thank you Lord, for blessing us with this delicious meal and especially this time together.”

6 thoughts on “Saying Grace

  1. Terry, that is a wonderful reminder of what a special pleace mealtime anywhere should be in our lives. Thank you for your inspiring essay. I’m passing along to Bill (one of your students at Meadowbrook) and the rest of my family and friends. (And I, too, would like the name of the restaurant you so enjoy!) Margie

  2. work is time consuming, and tends to consume. like tar baby you are in it exponetially. it can be like eating a taco in a tornado. the time you take with the people you love is life’s nourishment. refueling with friends, and you feel even better…….green chile stew perhaps!

  3. Terry, Thank you for this lovely essay. You remind us to take the time to be together at dinner time when we are blessed with good food before us. I like the way you delivered this message with clarity of voice and language. And I like how you are present in this daily ritual of living your life.

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