Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kitchen Servers

Every day at Morning Praise we read a little section from the Rule of Benedict. Today was a section from the chapter of “kitchen servers of the week.” At first glance this chapter looks like one of the boring, practical chapters that seem to pervade the Rule. Benedict goes on at length about exactly how the kitchen help is chosen and what they are supposed to do. However, if people are willing to look more closely there is a profound level of meaning in the chapter.

Every week the monks who are going to be assigned to kitchen duty come into the chapel and received a blessing from the whole community. Benedict seeks up this weekly ceremony is a way that looks a lot like the profession ceremony. In other words, every week the monks who are waiting on tables go through a ceremony that looks like the ceremony for becoming a monk and entering community. Kitchen service, the humble activity of making sure everyone is fed, is considered similar or equal in importance to entering monastic life. They are both about service, humility and doing what is best for the other person.

Most monasteries today don’t have a special ceremony for kitchen servers. It’s too bad. Most of us could use such a frequent reminder that the central activities of monastic life involve simple, sometimes demeaning, frequently humble tasks that are performed for the sake of one another and God.

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