I am struck by the opening lines of this chapter:
Let the brethren serve one another,
and let no one be excused from the kitchen service . . .
For this service brings increase of reward and of charity.
Kitchen service is among the least specialized, least esoteric practices in the monastery, yet the formational value of overtly serving one's sisters and brothers in this way is high. During the first week of my stay at St. Gregory's Abbey in July of 2011, the abbot of the community served as one of the kitchen servers--standing at the back of the refectory, clearing each plate, each cup, each piece of silverware as we finished, eating his meal after everyone else was dismissed. I saw clearly how such service acts to demolish any class system.
There is a powerful connection here to the essence of Christ's own humility as one who is "Lord" and "Teacher" and who stoops to take on the lowest task in the community. Our Father Benedict understands that a visceral, tactile experience of humble service on the part of everyone in the community animates the very Spirit of Christ in our midst.