One of the friars who usually does such things having gone home for a visit and a bit of vacation, I was asked to take care of setting the refectory tables for dinner and supper each day.
So twice a day, once at some point in the morning and again during the afternoon, I spend about half of an hour setting it all up. Lately eighteen places has been about right, so I set three tables of six. A plate and then a shallow bowl on top of it. Though only a few of the brothers actually conform to the traditional Italian meal sequence of the primo and secondo piatto in the eating of the meal, the places are always set this way. I count out eighteen forks, eighteen knives, and nineteen spoons--one extra for the tupperware of grated cheese which will arrive later. Eighteen little cups, eighteen little napkins.
I've grown to appreciate this little job pretty quickly. If there isn't a lot of work, it's something peaceful to do. If there is, it's a nice break. It touches on the part of my heart that looks to nurture, to nourish. And I find I can pray very simply while I do it, for the brother who usually sits in this or that spot, for those who don't have enough to eat, for those who can't feed their own. And I pray that God shows me how to serve them, how to be a lesser brother to them.
May God forgive me for eating when I have not worked diligently at the profession I have professed publicly before the Church and the world, for as St. Paul says, "If any one will not work, let him not eat." (2 Thessalonians 3:10) May he forgive me for eating for any other purpose but to continue living so as to serve those who go hungry, either physically or spiritually. May he teach me to set the table for his poor, for all those whom he himself will serve at table in his Kingdom. (Luke 12:37)