I sign up for dish washing as my chore.
It is straight forward, satisfying, involves water.
At training the cook says lunch dishes (my shift) are the longest and hardest job.
I puff with pride (yes, competitive even on retreat) to think I have chosen so well and will maybe receive the paper plate award for hardest/best chore doer.
There will not, of course, be any paper plate awards.
The reward is the feeling of service, of contribution to this place, to this time together, to our oneness in the experience of work, such a welcome respite of doing in the midst of intense being.
I hold each plate, each cup and take care to scrub it well, imagining my own gratitude when taking a shiny plate off the stack at mealtime. The silverware I fish for in the sink, scrub each piece with care, remembering Head Cold Guy, Scary Cough girl and the importance of vigilance.
My work mate, Georgie, rinses and sanitizes in the bleach bath, arranges on the drying rack.
We take turns fetching new loads from the dining hall bins and then finally all the serving pans come, unwieldy but foreshadowing the end.
Never has work felt so honest, so simple, so good.
A small offering in the rich stew of receiving.
Metta—even in the kitchen.