Labor Day is fast approaching, a day that symbolizes the end of summer and the beginning of a new school or work year. Picnics, family gatherings, and an extended weekend are welcome as we stand on the threshold of a new school year, job, or other personal new beginnings, propelling us forward into new changes and challenges.
Labor Day is also an opportunity to reflect on our work. Whether paid or unpaid, our work plays a prominent part in our lives, and it is well worth the time and effort to observe this day meaningfully, to not let it slip by without reflecting on work’s significance, nature, and role. A few thoughts:
• Work makes the worker more human and the world more just. When we carry our load, we grow as persons while contributing to the world as well. Work provides its own ascetism, with all its drudgery, irritations and disciplines. Even the fourth-century monastic Desert Mothers and Fathers braided baskets, not only to support themselves and to give to others, but to provide their days with the rigor that strengthened their spiritual disciplines.
• Work is co-creative. Because the world is unfinished, work enables creation to go on creating. Keeping an attractive, ordered and clean home, planting a garden, writing a letter to representatives about hunger concerns, driving a van for the elderly who could not otherwise get out, providing affordable child care, and supporting those who suffer from lack of work are all ways that we build up creation.
• Work gives us a vision. When we work, we become participants in hope. More than a means to fill our days or earn money, work enables us to become part of a possibility, while at the same time, discovering gifts and talents we may not have known we had.
• Work builds community. We never work for our good only. Work is our gift to the world that links us to our neighbor.
Work has creative, hopeful, and connecting qualities that assist our growing into the fullness of being human.
Happy Labor Day!