I arrived at the monastery yesterday afternoon, and will be here through the Easter rejoicing on Sunday morning. The Triduum (the three days of prayer that commemorate Jesus’ last supper, his trial and crucifixion, and end with the Easter vigil, which prepares us for the celebration of Easter) began yesterday evening with a foot washing ceremony, followed by a seder style supper at which we also shared the Communion with each other, and ended with a stripping of the altar. After the altar is stripped, there is a vigil throughout the night in which we symbolically keep watch with Jesus as he prepares for death on Good Friday.
Many of the rituals in the Christian tradition take place around food. Oddly, even on fasting days, such as today, Good Friday, the meal is a very special one. The meal itself marks a break in our cycle, and because of that it is significant even though it is so modest. Venturing downstairs to visit my friends in the kitchen I got a sneak peek at today’s “light dinner” (dinner is what they call the mid-day meal here).
This afternoon’s meal is a cheese, fruit, and cracker spread. It may be a light meal, but it certainly won’t want for flavor. It includes manchego, blue cheese, fontina, a paprika dusted chevre, and a few other tasty offerings.
Honeydew melon, watermelon, grapes, plums, strawberries, and my new favorite–gooseberries–stock the fruit platter.
We’ll be eating our meal in silence this afternoon. It’s awkward getting used to silence at meals, as meals are usually a time to share our thoughts and engage with each other. However, the silence draws our attention to the food and our eating in a way that mealtime conversations can distract us from. This meal, for me at least, is a reminder of the many simple goods that fill my life, however modest they may be.