I’ve been using labor so differently these last few days. Thinking about the labor that leads to death, which is surely as hard as any labor that leads to birth. I’ve also been thanking my lucky stars that I get one more swim in the town pool before summer’s officially ended in the school calendar. Labor Day has always been one of the saddest days of the year for me when I live on the East Coast simply because the pool closes. I’d been able to forget that while living in Oakland… Outdoor pools are open all year. Put a cap on and swim in the heated pool all year long. but whooo, in 20˚ it’s a long dash from winter clothes in an unheated locker room to a heated pool… and even longer back. but the joy was always there!
But, of course, Labor Day is not about my pool habits and the end of a season. And it’s not about the labor of birth or death, although they are good labor indeed. It’s not about the laborious reclamation of life after loss, although this may be the hardest labor I ever do.
Labor Day is about good work, safe work, good and fair wages that secure a life, adequate leisure time in which to explore that which makes us fully human. Somewhere in the midst of the picnics and the swimming, somewhere even in my grieving I must remember this. And even as part of my grieving. My sister lived as well as she did because Wayne was a member of the teacher’s union. They had a pension. They had health care. Sometimes in this country we act as if those were radical and ridiculous ideas. No, not so much.
So Labor Day, for those who labor and are weary, for those who labor and would eat, for those who labor and would be paid, for those who would Labor. It’s time, it seems for us to get to work for Labor. In my thealogy, the right to good work is a sacred one, and it is not just a cobblestone, but a whole stretch of the road on the path to Peace.