This July Brother David was head dishwasher at Tassajara, and before he left he entirely revised the washing ritual and retrained the students. Later, from his home monastery in Western New York, Mount Saviour, he sent the work foreman his suggestions for future dishwashers. They ranged from “a little vinegar in the rinse water makes the glasses sparkle,” and “the cats do appreciate the milk left in the glasses from the guest table;” to “We should listen to the sound of the water and the scrubbing, to the various sounds the dishes make when they hit each other. The sounds of our work tell us much about our practice… Most people dislike dishwashing. Maybe they can learn to appreciate the touch of the wooden bowls, the pots and mugs and everything they handle, the weight of what we lift up and set down, the various smells and sound. St. Benedict, the Patriarch of Western monks, says that in a monastery every pot and pan should be treated with the same reverence as the sacred vessels on the altar.”

From Wind Bell (Publication of San Francisco Zen Center: Vol. VII, Nos. 3-4, Fall 1968, p.17)

Br. David Steindl-Rast