The pelican papers

A big bird’s eye view

Dishwashing

Dishwashing station
One of those transient oddities: Whenever I wipe the stainless steel sinks at home, I recall those days at seminary when I was on the kitchen crew. Some seminarians hated that duty, but I don’t recall disliking it at all. Something about cleaning up a kitchen that’s spiritually satisfying. Always thought so, any way, at least since those days in the 1970s.I’m sure I’ve idealized a lot about those years that I now consider golden. There were some pretty stressful times, but I look back and see nothing but the good things. The routine of chapel, class and study. The blending of these into a seamless whole. Earnest conversations with those who would be earnest. (You can’t be earnest with everybody.) Long walks with the best of your friends. Fall days were the best, by far. The most holy, the most memorable. Holy Week in the chapel were always the richest, most exhausting days of the year.

All of it comes back when I’ve got soapy water on a wash rag, wiping the stainless steel sinks in our kitchen. I entered seminary more than 30 years ago. I’m finding it surpassing odd that this most ordinary of things brings it all back, almost daily, as I clean up the kitchen.

I’m not complaining. I cherish the memories, but they do make me ache, not because I’m so much older but because I know the rest of the story that won’t go away, no matter how much I wish it would.

June 7, 2005

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