Gathered around the table, I was teaching our three year old a round that had been sung at the table in my family, both in my childhood home and at larger family gatherings. With enough family members we could actually keep the round going for several cycles, but with Nate and myself, the goal was to learn the words and the melody for the first attempt.
For health and strength and daily bread, we give thee thanks O Lord.
Before the last note could end, Nate's response was immediately, "But I don't like to eat bread, mom!"
Umm. I had not thought of it. Here we were asking for blessing on a food that Nate found disgusting. Every attempt, at this point, to make homemade gluten-free bread had turned up moldy in a day due to our humid climate. The bread from the shelves at the store were vacuum packed and the consistency of sawdust. The one convenience bread that was edible was a gluten-free toaster waffle. We started using it for everything. Hotdogs rolled up in a waffle. Waffle peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Pizza sauce and almond cheese, on toasted waffle. Waffle bun hamburgers. Tuna fish on waffle.
At the age of three, right after Nate's diagnosis, nothing was meeting his expectations of bread. Twice a week, Nate was use to standing next to me at the counter and making home-made whole wheat bread. As the new gluten-free baker, I would sneak into the kitchen to attempt loaves of bread made from bean flour, tapioca flour, two types of rice flour, and xanthum gum. When the loaves repeatedly failed, I began to find it hard to plunk out a gluten free brick before one hopeful and disappointed little boy.
Singing this grace, my image of bread had continued to be the crusty, warm loaf of rich wheat bread that had come from my mother and grandmother's ovens. Nate's image of bread, was crumbly sand-textured, vacuum-packed slices of rice flour bread or a hard bean-flavored rice brick. I imagined farms of waving wheat and healthy children running through the fields. Nate was just trying to become healthy and avoid any contact with the golden-grain poison.
Quickly, I thought about the lyrics, For health and strength and daily ____ we give thee thanks, O Lord.
What were we thankful for?
For health, yes.
For family, yes.
For our jobs, chores, school, friends. Yes. Yes. Yes.
For bread. Bread is a staple of our life, a symbol for all that we eat. Bread is just one of the foods we eat to live. Food.
As simple as that. What if I substituted food for bread?
Humming through the lyrics, while we munched through our gluten-free meal, I checked the rhythm. For health and strength, and daily food we give thee thanks, O Lord.
It worked! Following the meal we tried the song again. Again, no attempts to even replicate a round, but this time to make it through the grace with thanksgiving for all that God gifts us each day.
Thank you Lord for the food you provide for us.
(Years later, I learned that my "original" idea had long been a common version of the same song. My childhood family had used "bread" while other families had used "food.")