After your food has been grown or raised (or processed or fermented or packaged) and harvested and shipped and displayed and purchased by you or someone you know or someone you are about to know, and hauled home and stored in cupboards and refrigerators and freezers and on the back porch and in the garage; after it has been chopped and stirred and cooked, and laid out on platters and scooped high onto plates and eaten, and revisited for seconds and eaten again, and cleared away and stored in the refrigerator for later or packed in to little boxes to be taken home or tossed into the trash or compost or garbage disposal ...
after you have eaten your fill or maybe more than your fill, or possible even less, depending on your dispositions and philosophies, but before you push away from the table and move on to the next thing, remember what has just happened. Remember that you were fed, and likely it was not only nourishing but satisfying. Maybe even delicious, but certainly at the very least Not Bad.
See if you can picture (it only takes a second or two) the long ribbon of effort and miracles and sweat and sacrifice and time that flows backwards from your satisfied belly and out your door and into the wild, uncontrollable world. Take a few moments to follow that ribbon and consider all that didn't go wrong in order for you to feel this gentle weight of satisfaction, this fullness, this amazing achievement called dinner.
It's traditional for some of us to give thanks before we eat, but it also makes sense, perhaps even more sense, to do so afterwards. Or if giving thanks isn't quite right for you, then to reflect on, and form some words of appreciation and acknowledgement, for what was received. Like these from the poet/farmer Wendell Berry:
Prayer After Eating
I have taken in the light
that quickened eye and leaf.
May my brain be bright with praise
of what I eat, in the brief blaze
of motion and of thought.
May I be worthy of my meat.
(Image: Dana Velden)