A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles

A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles

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by M J Ryan

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Now in paperback, A Grateful Heart is a tool to help readers reclaim and enrich the tradition of pausing before the evening meal to give thanks. Drawing from a range of religious and cultural practices, these 365 blessings celebrate friendship, love, peace, reconciliation, the body, nature, joy, and appreciation of the moment. This illustrated feast for the mind…  See more details below


Now in paperback, A Grateful Heart is a tool to help readers reclaim and enrich the tradition of pausing before the evening meal to give thanks. Drawing from a range of religious and cultural practices, these 365 blessings celebrate friendship, love, peace, reconciliation, the body, nature, joy, and appreciation of the moment. This illustrated feast for the mind includes quotations from Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh, Gandhi, Rumi, Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Denise Levertov, the Bible, and the Tao Te Ching.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In today's chaotic world, the common experience of sharing the evening meal can restore a sense of community and humanity to society. More important, the blessing of the meal fosters in us a sense of gratitude for the gifts we have been given. This collection of 365 "blessings"-ranging from the words of Augustine and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh to the Beatles' now famous "In the end the love you take/ is equal to the love you make"-celebrates the connections between grace and gratitude. To aid readers in selecting a grace appropriate to the occasion, there is a topical index as well as divisions marked by seasons of the year. The book will have wide appeal because it traverses all spiritual traditions. For general collections.

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A Grateful Heart

Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles


Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 1994 M. J. Ryan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57324-855-6



Gratitude is heaven itself.

—William Blake

Thou that hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, a grateful heart. Not thankful when it pleaseth me, As if thy blessings had spare days; But such a heart, whose pulse may be thy praise.

—George Herbert

* * *

Now may every living thing, young or old, weak or strong, living near or far, known or unknown, living or departed or yet unborn, may every living thing be full of bliss.

—The Buddha

How easily we can forget how precious life is! So long as we can remember, we've just been here, being alive. Unlike other things for which we have a comparison—black to white, day to night, good to bad—we are so immersed in life that we can see it only in the context of itself. We don't see life as compared to anything, to not-being, for example, to never having been born. Life just is.

But life itself is a gift. It's a compliment just being born: to feel, breathe, think, play, dance, sing, work, make love, for this particular lifetime.

Today, let's give thanks for life. For life itself! For simply being born!

—Daphne Rose Kingma

My whole being pulsates with the fire of desire for our everlasting union.

My very breath is but Yours. My heart is a limitless beacon of Your Love.

My Spirit, being Yours, is the light of the world. My eyes but radiate and reflect our Perfect Love.

My very essence vibrates with You as the harmony of music not yet heard.

My vision is but Your Love flowing through me, seeing only its own reflection. My only fulfillment is following Your Directions and Guidance.

My voice, being Yours, can only bless. My prayer is but an eternal song of gratitude, That You are in me, and I am in You, And that I live in Your Grace forever.

—Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D.

* * *

You who are smaller than the smallest seed; more beautiful than the rarest gem; Who hold the mountains and oceans in Your hand; Who breathes us with the breath of life; enfold us in Your great love that we may open our hearts to all mankind.

—Annabelle Woodard

Great Spirit, who hast blessed the earth that it should be fruitful and bring forth whatsoever is needful for the life of man, and hast commanded us to work with quietness, and eat our own bread; Bless the labors of those who till the fields and grant such seasonable weather that we may gather in the fruits of the earth.

—adapted from The Book of Common Prayer

* * *

Today, today, today. Bless us ... and help us to grow.

—from the Rosh Hashanah Liturgy

The Inner Light is beyond both praise and blame, Like unto space it knows no boundaries; Yet it is right here with us, ever retaining its serenity and fullness. It is only when you seek it that you lose it. You cannot take hold of it nor can you get rid of it; While you can do neither, it goes on its own way. You remain silent and it speaks; you speak and it is silent. The Gate of Heaven is wide open with not a single obstruction before it.

—Yung Chia

We join with the earth and with each other

To bring new life to the land To restore the waters To refresh the air

We join with the earth and with each other

To renew the forests To care for the plants To protect the creatures

We join with the earth and with each other

To celebrate the seas To rejoice in the sunlight To sing the song of the stars We join with the earth and with each other

To recreate the human community To promote justice and peace To remember our children

We join with the earth and with each other

We join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving memory: for the healing of the earth and the renewal of all life.

—U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program

* * *

A bright autumn moon ...

In the shadow of each grass an insect chirping


The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. She maketh me to lie down in green pastures. She leadeth me beside the still waters. She restoreth my soul. She leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for her name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

—Psalm 23:1, adapted

* * *

May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within. May the blessed sunshine shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend.

—Traditional Irish Blessing

When grapes turn to wine, they long for our ability to change.

When stars wheel around the North Pole, they are longing for our growing consciousness.

Wine got drunk with us, not the other way. The body developed out of us, not we from it.

We are bees, and our body is a honeycomb. We made the body, cell by cell we made it.

—Rumi, translated by Robert Bly

Blessed be you, harsh matter, barren soil, stubborn rock: you who yield only to violence, you who force us to work if we would eat. Blessed be you, perilous matter, violent sea, untameable passion: you who unless we fetter you will devour us. Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever new-born; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth. Blessed be you, universal matter, unmeasurable time, boundless ether, triple abyss of stars and atoms and generations: you who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standards of measurement reveal to us the dimensions of God ...

—Teilhard de Chardin

I salute the breath of life in thee, the same life that is breathed by me, warm flesh to warm flesh, oily press of nose to nose, the hardness of foreheads meeting. I salute that which gives us life.

—Keri Hulme

* * *

How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we, humans, know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within, if only we would listen to it, that tells us so certainly when to go forth into the unknown.

—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

O Great Spirit, Whose voice I hear in the winds, And whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me! I am small and weak, I need your strength and wisdom.

Let Me Walk In Beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make My Hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make Me Wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.

Let Me Learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

I Seek Strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy—myself.

Make Me Always Ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.

So When Life Fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

—Native American prayer

* * *

Help us, O Lord, to remember our kindred beyond the sea—all those who bend in bonds, of our own blood and of human kind—the lowly and the wretched, the ignorant and the weak. We are one world ... and one great human problem and what we do here goes to solve not only our petty troubles alone but the difficulties and desires of millions unborn and unknown. Let us then realize our responsibilities and gain strength to bear them worthily.

—W. E. B. Du Bois

Let us bless and let us extol, let us tell aloud and let us raise aloft, let us set on high and let us honor, let us exalt and let us praise the Holy One—blessed be He!—though He is far beyond any blessing or song, any honor or any consolation that can be spoken of in this world.

—The Kaddish

* * *

O beloved Pan, and all the other deities of this place, grant that I may become beautiful in my soul within, and that all my external possessions may be in harmony with my inner self. May I consider the wise to be rich, and may I have such riches as only a person of self-restraint can bear or endure.

—adapted from a speech by Plato

Grandfather, Look at our brokenness.

We know that in all creation Only the human family Has strayed from the Sacred Way.

We know that we are the ones who are divided And we are the ones Who must come back together To walk in the Sacred Way.

Grandfather, Sacred One, Teach us love, compassion, and honor That we may heal the earth And heal each other.

—Ojibway people of Canada

We pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences to holding to what we believe to be right.

May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred. We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead men to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.

Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfill the destiny for which we were created.

—adapted prayer from Week of Prayer for World Peace, 1978

Holy Spirit, giving life to all life, moving all creatures, root of all things, washing them clean, wiping out their mistakes, healing their wounds, you are our true life, luminous, wonderful, awakening the heart from its ancient sleep.

—Hildegard of Bingen, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

All Life Is One And Everything that Lives Is Holy Plants, Animals and People. All must eat to live and nourish one another We bless the lives that have died to give us this food.

Let us eat together Resolving by our work to pay the debt of our existence.

—John Bennett

May suffering ones be suffering free And the fear struck fearless be. May the grieving shed all grief— And the sick find health relief.

—Zen Chant

We are all partakers of the bread of life, Out of the lap of Mother Earth, And from the hands of our human benefactors; Many a life has been given for us, Many a body has been broken for us,

We are all partakers of the water of life, Out of the springs and streams of the earth, And of the blood of life, In uncounted sacrifices made in our behalf.

In ministrations such as these hath God nourished us; Freely we have received, freely let us give.

—Robert French Leavens

Praise wet snow falling early. Praise the shadow

my neighbor's chimney casts on the tile roof even this gray October day that should, they say, have been golden.

Praise the invisible sun burning beyond the white cold sky, giving us light and the chimney's shadow.

Praise god or the gods, the unknown, that which imagined us, which stays our hand, our murderous hand, and gives us still, in the shadow of death, our daily life, and the dream still of goodwill, of peace on earth. Praise flow and change, night and the pulse of day.

—Denise Levertov

Lord of the World, I stand before you and before my neighbors—pardoning, forgiving, struggling to be open to all who have hurt and angered me. Be this hurt of body or soul, of honor or property, whether they were forced to hurt me or did so willingly, whether by accident or intent, whether by word or deed—I forgive them because we are human ... I am ready to take upon myself the commandment, Love your neighbor as yourself.

—Levi Yitchak of Beditschev

Creator of the Stars God of Epiphanies You are the Great Star You have marked my path with light You have filled my sky with stars

naming each star guiding it until it shines into my heart awakening me to deeper seeing new revelations and brighter epiphanies.

O Infinite Star Giver I now ask for wisdom and courage to follow these stars for their names are many and my heart is fearful.

They shine on me wherever I go: The Star of Hope The Star of Mercy and Compassion The Star of Justice and Peace The Star of Tenderness and Love The Star of Suffering The Star of Joy And every time I feel the shine

I am called to follow it to sing it to live it ...

—Macrina Wiederkehr

* * *

Do all the good you can By all the means you can In all the ways you can In all the places you can To all the people you can As long as ever you can.

—John Wesley

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.

How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the bridegroom will say, "I do not know you" (Matthew 25:12).

My daughters, what are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love ...

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

—Mother Teresa

May our hearts be pure, harmonious and peaceful. May our Great Truth flourish and our worldly work be prosperous and not offended by evil. May all auspicious blessings be conferred. May the benefits of yin and yang abundantly aid our being and may we always be sheltered by Heaven.

—From Workbook for Spiritual Development of All People, p. 180

"Within each individual on this large and complicated world there lives an astonishing potential of greatness. Yet it is rare that these hidden gifts are brought to life unless by chance of fate," writes Velma Wallis. Acknowledging the truth of this statement, we take the opportunity right now to ask ourselves what unrevealed gifts we have to offer the world. What in us is being called for? What can we give that we haven't been giving?

* * *

Learn to turn to each person as the most sacred person on Earth, to each moment as the most sacred moment that has ever been given to us. This moment may never happen again, because no two moments are ever alike. Are we perhaps awake a bit more, perhaps breathing together with God?

—Reshad Feild

Matthew Fox once wrote, "The only hope Mother Earth has for survival is our recovering creativity— which is of course, our divine power. Creativity is so satisfying, so important, not because it produces something but because the process is cosmological. There's joy and delight in giving birth." Tonight we ask that each of us strive to tap into the creativity that is uniquely ours to give, and that we do so with a full measure of delight.

May we walk with grace and may the light of the universe shine upon our path.


You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself flows in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars; and perceive yourself to be the sole heir of the whole world; and more than so, because men are in it who are every one sole heirs, as well as you ...

Till your spirit fills the whole world, and the stars are your jewels; till you are as familiar with the ways of God in all ages as with your walk and table; till you are intimately acquainted with that shady nothing out of which the world was made; till you love men so as to desire their happiness, with a thirst equal to the zeal of your own; till you delight in God for being good to all: you never enjoy the world ...

You never enjoy the world aright till you see all things in it so perfectly yours that you cannot desire them any other way; and till you are convinced that all things serve you best in their proper places.

—Thomas Traherne

We are aware that all generations of our ancestors and all future generations are present in us.

We are aware of the expectations that our ancestors, our children, and their children have of us.

We are aware that our joy, peace, freedom, and harmony are the joy, peace, freedom, and harmony of our ancestors, our children, and their children.

We are aware that understanding is the very foundation of love.

We are aware that blaming and arguing never help us and only create a wider gap between us, that only understanding, trust, and love can help us change and grow.

—Thich Nhat Hanh

True greatness lies not always In the winning of worldly fame, Nor doing our best spurred on by the cheers And plaudits that follow our name. But he who can face with a cheery grace The everyday of life, With its petty things that rasp and sting, Is a hero in the strife.

—Fannie Herron Wingate

The food is brahma (creative energy)

Its essence is vishnu (preservative energy)

The eater is shiva (destructive energy)

No sickness due to food can come To one who eats with this knowledge.

—Sanskrit blessing, translated by Baba Hari Dass

Hear a prayer for courage. Lord of the peaks, Reared amid the thunders; Keeper of the headlands Holding up the harvest, Keeper of the strong rocks.

—Prayer to the Mountain Spirit

Excerpted from A Grateful Heart by M. J. RYAN. Copyright © 1994 M. J. Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

M.J. Ryan is the editorial director of Conari Press, publisher of the best-selling "Random Acts of Kindness" series. She is the author of Attitudes of Gratitude, 365 Health and Happiness Boosters, and The Giving Heart, and editor of A Grateful Heart and The Fabric of the Future. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.

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Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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bfoxmatt More than 1 year ago
The native American blessings are some of my favorite ones in this book. I was a bit disappointed that there is only one Beatles "blessing" with that listed on the cover, but this is a great source for non-traditional and thought provoking blessings. There is also a good index by the author or source of the blessing in the back of the book.