I’m sitting here this morning trying to figure out why we call today “Labor” Day. A quick glance through Wikipedia’s entries on “Labour Day“, reveals that Labor Day is connected to the celebration of the contribution of workers to our world. But, I’m trying to figure out what in my life is so “laborious.”
There is only one thing about my “labor” that I would call “laborious” and I’ll get to that in a moment, but first this: I don’t consider what I do to be “labor” or “work.” I consider it a vocation — something planted in me by God and designed by God to contribute to the Kingdom of God somehow and someway. Calling what I do, or what anyone does, “labor” turns it exclusively into a capitalist adventure designed to make money. And it turns it into a “labor force” vs. a “leader force.” That, also, gives me some problems. I would hope we could work together. (Sure, I’m aware of deep divisions, and I’ll avoid that.)
I also read and write: which is what I do when I’m not teaching, though about everything I read and write shows up in my classes and gets filtered into one of those three rubrics of knowledge, critical thinking, and responsibility. And I love to read and write. I don’t get up in the morning dreading what I’m called to do (the impact of seeing what I do as a vocation and not labor or work), but I go to bed looking forward what I am privileged to do the next day.
Maybe, in fact, that is the point: when we see what we do as “labor” we fail to see that it is a vocation from God. As Mr. Rogers would put it: “just for you.” When we grind our vocations down into labor, we perhaps destroy the subtle balance there is between responsibility to others and God and our freedom, and it leads us to a rabid desire for the latter as we retreat from the former.