Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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Grace — Prayers for the Meal
Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude
does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat
of God's bounty;
the bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you
to the hearth of the Beloved.
Abundance alone brings heedlessness,
thanksgiving gives birth to alertness...
The bounty of thanksgiving
will satisfy and elevate you,
and you will bestow
a hundred bounties in return.
Eat your fill of God's delicacies,
and you will be freed from hunger and begging.

Rembrandt's copy of a Mogul miniature, showing the founders of the four great mystical orders. Click for larger image.

With mealtime prayer we offer thanksgiving to the source of all sustenance. Prayer is a means by which the reins of hunger and the senses are taken by the spirit and intellect. The offering of a mealtime blessing elevates eating from a mechanical activity to conscious participation in the chain of being. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that in eating any organism, we are sharing in the sacrifice it has made to sustain us.

Gratitude is an eagle, blessings a fine plump partridge
only gratitude wins the reward of blessing.
Give thanks to Him alone who buys
your words in the bazaar of Paradise.