It’s Friday. Pizza day. At Louise’s house, the parents don’t feel like cooking, and the kids get a treat.
The slices are out. The salad’s in the serving bowl. Everyone has an accommodating fork, napkin, and slice. I see Eric move a hand to his face in the corner of my eye, and assume that he’s started eating.
As the guest, this means I’m allowed to eat too. I take a bite out of my slice, but before I can even chew, I realize that Eric was just scratching his beard. With a smile on his face, he says “Don’t forget about grace, Jeff”.
It’s a double whammy.
Not only am I a rude guest, mistakenly eating first, but I’m a heathen too, disrespectful of their religion.
It reminded me of something that happened when I was a teenager. Matt was over. Pizza night. As the guest, Matt got the first slice. He waited while the rest were being handed out, but my dad, without any sense of formality, took a bite as soon as he had one. Neither of my parents noticed, but there was a startled look on Matt’s face. He quickly closed his eyes, held a fist to his face (not a clenched one, but as if holding the beads of a Rosary), and said a prayer in his head.
I always imagined that it went, “ThankyouGodforthispizzaandformygracioushosts”, because he was done so quickly.
It made me wonder, what was in that look? What do those who ask thanks of their meal think of those who don’t? What do Christians think of those who don’t say grace? What do Muslims think of those who don’t fast? Are we unappreciative? Do we take our food for granted?
Eric’s tone is kind though, not condescending or judgmental, as if to say, “We only ask you to do this for the sake of our kids”.
Louise asks Sarah if she’d like to say grace. She sings a song that bears a striking — excuse the pun — resemblance to the melody of the Westminster quarters (along with choreography).
Hark to the chimes (arms held upwards and open)
Come bow your head (hands together in prayer)
We thank thee lord (arms upward again)
For this good bread (hands together again)
But as a seven-year-old, Sarah doesn’t know the right words. She says “heart” instead of “hark”. “You” instead of “thee”.
No one mentions it though. Not everyone is perfect. One can be forgiven.
Even me, I hope.