HAWKINSVILLE -- The rooster didn’t have time to pour a second cup of coffee Tuesday morning before folks began arriving at Tom and Sandy’s Horseshoe Restaurant.
They gathered in a back room and filled their plates with scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, biscuits and gravy.
After they wiped the corners of their mouths, everyone said grace.
It took 35 minutes to bless the food, because these prayers covered more ground than just breakfast. This was not the rhetorical “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food.’’
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Two days before the National Day of Prayer, they read from prayer books and Scripture from Genesis to Psalms to the Gospels of the New Testament.
“Amen’’ was uttered no less than 19 times.
The official head count was 105. They walked through the double doors representing all walks of life. There were preachers, teachers, car dealers, insurance agents, plumbers, cabinet makers, students and a retired radio DJ. There were farmers and farmers’ wives.
Everybody was welcome at the 12th annual Blessing of the Crops.
“This is a reminder that nothing grows that God is not a part of,’’ said the Very Rev. Gary Abbott of St. Luke’s Episcopal in Hawkinsville. “We ask his blessings on the things we eat, the things we wear and life itself.’’
Heads were bowed. Hearts were joined. On this morning, everyone was a field hand.
Some of the script was personal. Some was liturgical. They asked God to make them good stewards of the land and to guide the work of their hands.
The Lord’s Prayer was recited, with special emphasis on “Give us thy daily bread.’’
By the time the dishes were put away, anyone who had made a special prayer request for rain had a satisfied grin. The thunderstorms came calling, and every row of cotton, peanuts and corn in Pulaski County got a big swallow of water.
Agriculture is important to Pulaski and the surrounding areas, so the prayers didn’t stop at the county line. It is the state’s leading industry, and 11.1 million acres are devoted to farmland. Georgia is tops in the nation in the production of peanuts, pecans and young chicken broilers. It ranks second in cotton, third in both peaches and tomatoes and fifth in tobacco.
The idea for the Blessing of the Crops was a tiny seed when Abbott approached the late Jimmy Johnson about it in 2003. Johnson, a local John Deere tractor dealer, owned a farm out on Highway 247.
Jerry Davis, of Heart of Georgia Peanut & Gin Co., and the late Wendell Dunaway, of Dunaway Brothers fertilizer business, helped organize the ceremony.
It was held in Johnson’s barn, next to a wood-burning stove and a table filled with doughnuts and orange juice as extra incentive to show up and pray. There were 27 people at the first blessing and a few more the next time. After two years, Abbott got churches and local businesses involved, and the annual prayer breakfast has had a standing date at the Horseshoe Restaurant ever since, with more than 100 in attendance every year.
“It brings us together, racially and religiously,’’ Abbott said. “It crosses denominational lines.’’
We all eat from the same table. Don’t forget to say the blessing.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org