Labor Day in the US means many things: summer’s end, school’s beginning, family reunions, cookouts, camping, day at the beach, day off from work, extra sleep, checking off the honey-do list, or just another day. The significance placed on this holiday has everything to do with your perspective and upbringing.
For instance, summer doesn’t officially end until September 22nd, and for many students, school resumed in August. Many workers are required to labor on Labor Day so the rest of us can play or rest assured our loved one in homes and hospitals are safe and cared for. Emergency, fire, and police services, convenience stores — all are in operation. Some of us do not live near a beach or recreation area. We are unable or unwilling to join with friends or family. We eat a normal meal.
So what does Labor Day mean to these? Is it just another day?
I hope we can, regardless of our situation, take a minute to stop and be thankful for the millions of people whose sweat and muscles and intelligence make this country and to a great extent, the world, what it is today. Productive. Convenient. Communicative. Knowledgeable. Functioning. Advanced. Smaller and broader in the same instant.
No, I am under no illusion the country or the world are perfect. I understand many are without. Many are unable to take advantage of all the wonders of technology and travel. Many do not feel safe. Many are hurting without proper medical care. Many are abused, ignored, and slighted.
We have a long way to go before all needs are met, all voices heard. But we’re working toward a better tomorrow. And that’s the beauty of Labor Day! We’re working. Nothing could be accomplished without work. Those who sit back and wait for something better to come along may be waiting longer than they like because they didn’t step up and do their part.
Too many people today think the perfect life would be one in which they had no labor. I disagree. I will labor until I physically can’t. That labor may not be physical. I am a teacher and a writer. Neither of these is muscle intensive, though creativity and the use of my brain require just as much energy as the back-breaking labor my husband does as a mechanic/builder/fixer of all things on a farm.
But there is another kind of labor that I celebrate as much as the one that earns my paycheck. Labor for good. Working towards loving others and showing them kindness. This labor is often overlooked or even looked down upon. I believe it is the most important kind of labor, and it is one that can be performed from close proximity or across the globe, from a wheelchair, an office, a desk, a crane, an eighteen wheeler, or the back of a horse. The labor of love employs all ages, races, genders, intelligences, and skills. There is no time clock, no time limit, no time out. It can be performed in the dark of night or the light of day, during a storm promising destruction or when a rainbow promises sunshine’s return.
So this Labor Day, think how you might engage in the Labor of Love. Improve your physical space, your bit of the Internet, your sphere of influence for the better one small smile, one kind word, one encouraging hug at a time.
Thank you for joining me on this Labor Day! And thank you to those laboring to make my life easier. Keep working for good.
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Cover Photo: a nest of tree roots along the Tippecanoe River. We, in the world, are interconnected just like these roots. We all need life-giving water else we die. Lack of roots and connection leads to lack of growth, stagnation, and often, lack of the will to push through difficulties. Enjoy the connections you have or find some that will nourish you and make them your own.