Sunday, September 3rd, 2017
LABOR MATTERS AND SO DO LABORERS
Where to start?
First of all, I come from a family of laborers. My dad was an oil worker and he labored. He worked physically using his body. He worked shifts—the day shift, the 4-12 shift and midnights. The shifts rotated weekly. Long after retirement, his body still slept according to those shifts. I liked it. I had slumber parties when he worked midnights. My mom and brother and I had weird meals (popcorn and fudge) when he worked 4-12 and I had him home during the day two out of the three weeks. I see him coming in from the garage, exhausted, lighting up a Lucky Strike and heading into the house for a cup of cofee which he cooled and drank from the saucer. He labored to give my brother and me a college education which he had wanted for himself. He bought and read the Harvard Classics and could win any Jeopardy contest.
Two, I think about Labor Day in Mexico where all of the laborers (carpenters, stone masons, roof raisers, iron workers, bricklayers) each in their own community march solemnly carrying a cross from their house to the church to be blessed by the priest praying for safety for these people working with their bodies. And then the community feed and celebrates the workers. There is a band and quite a bit of beer. The celebration lasts into the night. This is how it should be. How dare we take this gift of physical labor so lightly here in the United States?
Thirdly, I think of Houston. Imagine the amount of pure physical that is going on right now. People are carrying people, pulling boats, making food, lugging almost everything, digging through mud, mustering the physical strength to tackle a demolished home, and facing the cleaning and sorting and building with muscle and hope.
All Labor involves hope–for creating something new, for working toward a long held goal, for making a home for our very human need for a safe place.
When I travel and have been near to ancient structures from castles to ruins, I often touch each stone or brick to remind myself that another hand had put it there. Labor matters and so does each and every laborer. I honor and admire your work and incredible contribution. I think about how to celebrate your day with more than a barbecue, although I hope you enjoy yours.