I wrestle with faith but I miss the tradition of giving thanks before a meal

I wrestle(ˈresəl) with faith but I miss the tradition of giving thanks before a meal

By Martin(ˈmärtn) Bauman

“Shall we say grace(grās)?”

My mother looks to my father for input. The smell of baked(bākt) bread(bred), steamed(stēmd) green beans and barbecued(ˈbärbəˌkyo͞o) trout(trout) wafts(waft,wäft) from the dinner table. It’s framed(frāmd) as a question, but there is only one answer. It is the same answer it has always been.

“Thank you, God,” my mother begins, eyes closed and head bowed(bou,bō). I sneak(snēk) one last glance(glans) at the food on the table; my appetite(ˈapəˌtīt) will have to wait.

Some run marathons(ˈmarəˌTHän); some fast or meditate(ˈmedəˌtāt). My mother is a world-class endurance(enˈd(y)o͝orəns) athlete(ˈaTHˌlēt) in dinnertime prayer(pre(ə)r). Short-haired and with reading glasses perched(pərCH) just right, she can out-thank the most grateful(ˈgrātfəl) of grace-givers. Oscar(ˈäskər) acceptance(əkˈseptəns) speeches are shorter. Maybe Oscar monologues(ˈmänəlˌôɡ, ˈmänəlˌäɡ), too. Still, for every breakfast(ˈbrekfəst), lunch and dinner my family has shared, my parents have started by giving thanks.

I was raised(rāzd) a Mennonite(ˈmenəˌnīt), which is not to be confused with an Old Colony(ˈkälənē) Mennonite, nor an Old Order Mennonite, and certainly not a David(ˈdāvid) Martin Mennonite (although my parents did name me Martin David). I am neither a Mexican(ˈmeksək(ə)n) Mennonite (who themselves are not really Mexican, but rather Low German), nor a Conservative(kənˈsərvədiv) Mennonite (which some might consider a redundancy(rəˈdəndənsē) of words), but instead, a “mainstream(ˈmānˌstrēm)” Mennonite – a sellout in the Mennonite tradition, if you will. Mainstream Mennonites are more or less akin(əˈkin) to any other Canadian(kəˈnādēən) you might see – “except,” one such Mennonite blogger notes, “for the lingering(ˈliNGg(ə)riNG) vestiges(ˈvestij) of Mennonite self-loathing(ˈlōT͟HiNG).” A lovely tradition to inherit(inˈherət).