Ever find yourself polishing off a burrito at a stop-light? Guzzling a smoothie at your desk? Grabbing a bag of chips late at night to give you the energy you need to scoop up the last of your emails before you crash for the night? Modern life has become so frenzied that we sometimes do not have time to eat a civilized meal at a beautifully set table. When, we might ask, do we have time to say grace or offer a prayer of thanks for the countless blessings we have?
Are we aware of those blessings often enough? Even when we are, are we too busy to give voice to them? It can take only a minute, but knowing what to say in that minute can be daunting.
Enter Brenda Knight, founding editor of Viva Editions and author of Women of the Beat Generation, with her recent book, The Grateful Table, Blessings, Prayers and Graces for the daily meal. This is a moving collection of 365 prayers, blessings and philosophies on gratitude taken from a wide variety of cultural traditions and wisdoms, one for every day of the year.
It is a joy to listen to Brenda, one of San Francisco’s literary trendsetters, talk about her West Virginia girlhood of humble circumstances in a family for whom growing their own food, baking their own bread and making their clothes was born of necessity but never a burden. Brenda grew up with blessings aplenty. She had a loving, intelligent, talented and hard-working family, encouragement in her boundless passion for reading, her horse Sparkle, love of the land, good genes and lessons in gratitude by living example. Hers was a family vocally grateful for the little things in life. They said grace before every meal and, creative a clan as they were, sometimes embellished those prayers with stories or biblical quotes.
The prayers Brenda offers are from religious leaders and philosophers, people who, like Brenda, know that saying grace is a “key ingredient to living a life full of joy and abundance.” Brenda brings the power of her upbringing, her sensibilities, and her academic education to this collection. And, by the way, you may be surprised to hear in what field she earned her degree.
Don’t have time to sit down to a meal every day? Worry not. You can offer any one of these blessings at any time of day that you have a minute or so to think about how lucky you are and want to glow in the light of it.
One of Brenda’s offerings is Meister Eckhart’s, “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank you’, that would suffice.” Now, isn’t that nice to know?
Bonus here is that the book is easy to hold and beautiful to look at so will add elegance to any table. Thank you, Brenda, for the reminder that prayer can be so easily accomplished, for the bounty of choices and for the generosity to inspire us with tales of yourself and your family.
Her love letter? For a woman who has so many blessings and who has written love letters all her life, the possibilities of more are limitless. Even in the midst of a gift-giving time of year, this book, like prayer itself, is a perfect gift to anyone, including yourself, for any reason and at any time of the year.
From me to you with love in the air,
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