Sunday, April 03, 2005

Probiotic Grace before meals

"Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?" the King asked.
"At supper."
"At supper? Where?"
"Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A banqueting party of shrewd worms are dining with him as we speak. The worm has a regal appetite. We fatten the animals to fatten ourselves and we fatten maggots. Your fat king and your skinny beggar seem like two very different dishes, but they end up on the same table. That's the end."

Hamlet, Act Four, Scene 3

Someone at work came across the word "probiotic," and asked me what it meant. I dug around in my memory, noticed a couple of scientific names nearby, and recalled it was the opposite of "antibiotic." In the same way that antibiotics kill off populations of bacteria that make us sick, they also destroy in their indiscriminate task whole populations of "good" microbes that keep our bodies working smothly. Here is a prayer before meals giving thanks for their good work.

Bless me, O Lord, and these your gifts, your emissaries: bacillus, yeast, and virus, protozoa and metazoa — all who receive me as their gift. I thank you for this, our Holy Commensalism.

Blessed art thou, oh Mothers and Fathers among you, both ecto and endo. I thank you for your hungers and for this beautiful day. Thank you for not leaving me to waste and to rot, for paring away the dead and excessive, for cleansing away the discarded and decayed, for working amongst yourselves toward the kingdom of my immunity. Thank you for your hungers, for your impeccable work. That which does not destroy me, indeed makes me endure. Take of this, my body, feast and be sheltered.

Thank you oh my many phagocytes, my hungry warriors of the blood, keen-nosed Neutrophlis, mighty Eosinohil, and the sturdy T-cell. Thank you for your vigilance, your unflagging courage, for keeping our enemies at bay.

Thank you, oh legion of predacious microbes both aerobic and anaerobic, for sharing your feast with me, for living in balance within and upon me, never being greedy. As you will someday convert me to the soil, as you will someday ferry my cells across the dark waters, I celebrate each day of our mutual existence, and thank you for another day without constipation.

Entero, Staphylo, and Strepto.
Oh my Coccuses, I celebrate you!
Bacillus and bacterium all: Lacto, Bifido, Propion, Cornye, and Fus, I celebrate you!
Citro & Enterobacter, Shigella, Klebsiella, Neisseria, I celebrate you!
Hemophilus, Proteus, Treponema and the mighty Diptheroids, I praise you!
Clostridium, Pityrosporum, Pseudomonas and Trichomonas, I praise you!
Ever ubiquitous Candida, and the esteemed E-coli, thank you time and again for your blessings. I celebrate you!

Thank you, tooth amoebae, that my gums are scrubbed by your cytoplasm.
Thank you, Demodex Folliculorum, that my eyelashes are groomed by your mandibles.
And lastly, oh abundant dust mite, thank you that my excess dander is raked by your forelegs, consumed by the diligence of your prodigious appetite.

Givers of life, thank you for choosing me to be the fruit of much hard work. We each hunger to live another second, to eat and to become food. May I join you someday to feast at another table. Until then, in the name of the compassionate and beneficent and omnivorous God, I offer my flesh with love and gratitude.


No comments: