Take Small Jobs Seriously

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During retreats at Iona, the organizers assign each pilgrim a job. Some people join in housekeeping, some people work in the kitchen, and others help with maintenance. During the introductions, Tracey, one of the leaders, told everyone to look on a board and find their assigned job. This week, they assigned me the Chapter House.

The Chapter House is the central meeting room for pilgrims. It’s where John Bell will lead us in reflections on miracles in the gospels. The instructions are to keep it tidy and straighten it up after our meetings.

This seems straightforward. Wait until there is something to do and then do it. However, in the monastic rhythm, everyone went to do their job at 9 AM. I went to the Chapter House and sat.

We had not started meeting yet so there was nothing to do. A staff member came by and we chatted. We talked about our ministries and what we experienced in Iona.

After worship, several staff members served coffee just outside the Chapter House. I made sure to collect the empty cups and return them to the refectory. I asked if there was anything else I could do. Denise, the one in charge of the sacristy, said no.

Every calling is great when pursued with conviction. This week, the monastery is full, so they’ve ‘invented’ jobs for some of us. I suspect ‘keeping the Chapter House’ might be a made up job. I don’t know.

No job is too small to do for the glory of God. I wonder how many tasks we take for granted and assume they don’t matter. One of the lessons I have already taken from this experience at Iona is to take seriously the jobs in front of me.

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