Published in the 1971 November edition of Poetry Magazine, this poem called “Prayer After Eating” is by Wendell Berry, to whom I once wrote a fan letter (he lives a life of such isolation, it’s hard to know if I addressed it to his actual Kentucky farm, but he never wrote back). Wendell Berry has a book called Sabbath Poems which I highly recommend: he wrote a poem every Sunday for decades and the collected tome is thick with prayerful beauty and reflection on God in nature.
In the bright summer sun, I spent one morning this week thinking about his phrase, “the light that quickened eye and leaf,” remembering how the sun knits every meal together, and therefore every bone in our sinewy body. Maybe Wendell Berry is right: our prayer after eating should include the sunlight animates this small blue spinning marble we call home.
What meal time prayers connect your eating habits to your sense of the presence of God? I certainly have never officially prayed “after” eating. We always prayed the simple, “God is good, God is great, and we thank God for our food. Amen.” It says it all, I think, but maybe I’ll add Wendell Berry’s prayer to the end of my meals, now, too.
Let us pray:
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.
—Wendell Berry, b. 1935