April 9, August 9, December 9
Chapter 56: On the Abbess’s Table
Let the Abbess’s table always be with the guests
and the pilgrims. But when there are no guests,
let it be in her power to invite whom she will of the sisters.
Yet one or two seniors must always be left with the others
for the sake of discipline.
Overnight guests and travellers of all sorts sit at table with the monastic superior. They are not fobbed off to a table on their own or even with mere monastics. Nope, they get to dine with the head honcho. Now, isn’t that a gracious gesture of hospitality? The most important person in the community entertains the visitors.
When there are no guests, that table can be filled with members of the community and I daresay that the superior is certain to include everyone over the course of time. I note that the distribution requires that there are always senior monastics sitting with the younger to ensure that all behave appropriately.
I can’t remember the last time I was invited to someone’s home to share a meal. I am invited out and treated to a meal at a restaurant, but that is not the same thing, is it? There is not the same level of intimacy, is there? Oddly enough, even though I love to cook and prepare food for others, few people accept my invitations and I’m a great cook! We just don’t seem to be as comfortable visiting in each other’s home as we once did. Of course, maybe it’s where I live. Maybe elsewhere people are still enjoying each other’s company within each other’s homes.