The first time Doodle Bug had been exposed to the idea of "saying grace" was during his time attending Head Start (for those unfamiliar, HS is a federally funded preschool program designed to monitor childhood development). I volunteered there a lot and ate lunch with the little ones. Before each meal the teacher and her aides led the children in a mealtime prayer that they simply called "Peaceful".
I didn't know what to expect, and was delighted with the short, sweet, non faith-based prayer that followed. There were also hand/arm motions.
Hands clasped before you.
"Before me , peaceful."
Hands touching behind the back.
"Behind me, peaceful."
Hands making small circles at your sides.
"All around me, peaceful."
Hands clasped over chest/heart.
"Within me, peaceful."
I have not been able to find evidence that this is a prayer officially used/endorsed by the Head Start system, and so tip my hat to the organizers of Doodle Bug's school for finding and using such a simple and pleasing way of saying grace in a public setting.
After doing a bit of research to find out more about "Peaceful", I've come to find that the words are taken from a Navajo proverb that goes: "Before me peaceful, behind me peaceful, under me peaceful, over me peaceful, all around me peaceful."
When we do find ourselves in a place where we are prompted to say grace, "Peaceful" comes to mind and should any of you suddenly be called upon to say grace in mixed religious company, I invite you give "Peaceful" a try.
The Mama Stacey Clan has changed since this post. We moved into a large house and are a family of five, now. Having a formal dining room allowed us to try a pre-dinner ritual of sorts. We did "Peaceful" for a time, but then the kids began to alter the words and fight with each other during the hand movements,. I called it off because I was NOT able to be calm during it. Haha! We did nothing for a time, but eventually dinner was falling apart: the toddlers had tablets in their faces, Doodle Bug wanted to eat in his room, I had a book in my face, the baby was "all done" before I'd even sat down... I was in need of a dinnertime "starters pistol". What we started doing was lighting a candle and reading a piece of poetry in lieu of a prayer. I pick a poem for the month and write it out on giant easel paper. It's attached to the wall and they take turns reading the lines. This not only gave us back dinnertime, but helps my 14yo practice reading and my 4yo practice letters. The fact that we're all becoming familiar with poetry is a bonus, too!