Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Guest Refectory...

Sunday is a quiet day here - literally. We are encouraged to use the Lord's Day for recollection. But, because it his His day, we have music at breakfast and lunch. And, there are special things on the table: pannetone at breakfast and cups of chocolate gelatto for dessert at lunch - (that's ICE CREAM!)

There are some things that monastics everywhere do the same. We have a big bulletin board that we're to check in the Refectory. It has group assignments for dish duty, directions for the Table Readers, announcements of various kinds and a meal count for our "free" day.

On feast days or birthdays, the sister's place is decorated with fresh flowers, china, candy, small gifts and some baked confection to share. (Actually, theses Benedictines only celebrate feast days, but they've made an exception for visiting monastics.) Sister Veronica's place remains beautiful throughout the day. Every house has a Sister Joan Ann!

Some things are quite different. Each week a stack of fresh, white linen napkins appears. We put the old one in a pile and place the new on our napkin folder. Or names are written in the top corner. The first thing you do as you enter the dining room, is scope out your napkin. When we first arrived, I used it and abused it. I didn't realize there were tiny paper napkins on the table for larger messes: fruit on the hands, spaghetti sauce around the mouth. By the end of the first week, I was ashamed to take my napkin out of its folder. From the stained linen, I would have thought me a barbarian.

I'm in love with the sugar bowl. OK...I never really use sugar at table, but if I did, this little contraption makes all the sense in the world. Last, but not least, is the method of garbage disposal. It's comforting to scrape my plate into a plastic bucket. Some things, thankfully, are universal. Love to you all... - Sister Vicki