During the Summer, I work at the Walker Center, a Bed and Breakfast in Auburndale, MA. For those planning a trip to Boston, their website is walkerctr.org. I also reside on campus in one of the student housing buildings. This arrangement suits me well as I don't have a commute; waking at 5:45 for a 6am shift gives me time to dress, brush my teeth, beat my hair into a presentable fashion (or put on a hat), and walk, roll, or stumble across the lawn.
The Walker Center
puts breakfast on seven days a week from 7:30 to 9am. This also suits
me quite fine as I am able to have a hearty breakfast each day before
jumping into the tasks which await me. In addition to the B&B
guests having breakfast, the Walker Center frequently serves as host for
retreat groups. These retreat groups often have meals of lunch and
supper, and groups range in size from smaller, like the group of fifteen
we have arriving in a few days, to larger, like the group of sixty we
had over the weekend. As one can probably imagine when sixty people eat
a meal, there are plenty of dishes to be cleaned afterward; and with
each meal comes the dirty dishes which were used in food preparation.
When three meals are served for sixty, it seems an endless cycles of
dishes; one no sooner completes the washing of dishes from breakfast and
the dishes from lunch begin arriving. I often joke that it's Groundhog
Day (to reference the great movie starring Bill Murray) or that there
is a lapse in the space-time continuum. This is all to say that I have
spent the majority of my time the last week working in the dish room.
More specifically, my time has been spent with these nifty tools, the
sprayer and the sanitizer.
Spending time in the dish room has afforded me time to think.
are rinsed with the pressure-sprayer, scrubbed, and placed on blue
racks and sent through the santizer. The sanitizer whirs with
chemicals, hot water, and pressure to make sure that the dishes are
now been a regular in the dish room for over a month. And I noticed
yesterday, amid the soap and water and chunks of food, that I was
successfully securing that ring on that hook nine out of ten times that I
made the attempt. My experience in the dish room is not unlike that of
a newborn calf, wobbly on its feet at first, but soon walking and
running around. I now know how to wash the dishes correctly from start
to finish, I now know where the many and varied types of items belong.
I believe that my experiences with the sprayer are similar to my experiences with God.
times in my life when I have been troubled or have had significant
decisions to make, my college chaplain and now adopted mother would say,
"Where do you hear God? Where is God in all this?" In the earliest
parts of my developing faith, I didn't know what the heck she was
talking about, or how I should answer. I found myself thinking, "Vic,
God can't talk! I can't listen to what isn't there!" Her questions
Now, some years later, I have a
slightly different understanding. I've come to understand more about
the movement of the Spirit, I've come to understand some of the varied
ways in which God beckons us and calls us to a particular place and
time, I've come to recognize that listening is the key. Still, I
don't always know 100 percent that I'm making the "right" decision,
sometimes our paths aren't quite that definitively clear. Sometimes I
still struggle with the aspect of hearing God, of discerning God's voice
from the chaos of the world and the influences of others in the
I have come to a place now, in my
life, where I ask myself the questions originally posed to me by Vicki
those years ago. I ask them of myself when I am struggling with sermon
writing and need a focused direction. I ask them of myself when I can't
sleep at night and something may be on my mind. I ask them when faced
with significant decisions. Sometimes all I can muster as a response to
the questions is, "I don't know where God is calling me, but I know God
is with me, no matter what I decide to do." I have become not only
more familiar and comfortable with the questions, I have become more
comfortable with the process of listening, reflecting, and following.
Admittedly, I still have an innate desire to forge ahead and make
decisions at a rapid-fire pace, but I am working to curb that in favor
of a more Spirit-filled decision-making process.
my first days in the dish room, I could have surrendered in frustration
at the skills I seemingly lacked. Instead, I continued to spray,
scrub, and sanitize. I dropped plates, knocked pitchers over, and
nearly lost a spoon to the garbage disposal. Instead of claiming
defeat, I stuck it out and did my best, and I did improve. And that's
how I recognized God in the dish room.