active work, Christian life, contemplative, create our destiny, great work of mankind, Kathleen Deignan, Labor Day, Love and Living, nature, struggle, The Sophia Center for Spirituality, Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours
I’ve often been in conversations where the topic is the naming of this holiday. Some of us think it should be called “Non-labor Day” since mostly all workers who are not absolutely necessary (like hospital emergency room personnel) are usually free of going to work today. With this in mind I turned to Thomas Merton who actually has a fair number of thoughts on the subject of work. I came upon a paragraph in which he looks at work in a different, more elevated way. I thought it a good sharing for today and with it I pray my hopes for a safe and restful, rejuvenating day for everyone, working or not.
(We must forgive the “exclusive language” in the paragraph below since Merton lived when “man” was still understood universally as meaning all of “humankind.”)
All Christian life is meant to be at the same time profoundly contemplative and rich in active work. It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives. In doing this, we act as co-workers with God. We take our place in the great work of mankind, since in effect the creation of our own destiny, in God, is impossible in pure isolation. Each one of us works out his own destiny in inseparable union with all those others with whom God has willed us to live. We share with one another the creative work of living in the world. And it is through our struggle with material reality, with nature, that we help one another create at the same time our own destiny and a new world for our descendants. (Love and Living, p. 159 – quoted in Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours, edited by Kathleen Deignan)