The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once pointed out the fact that whether we take time to recognize it or not, all life is interrelated. We depend on each other. In his words, “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. . . . Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world.”
As we begin this Labor Day weekend, I share a meditation from The Rev. Sam Candler, dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta. [i]
I live today because someone has labored. I live today because many, many, people have labored. On this Labor Day, I give thanks for them.
I eat today because someone served. Someone cooked. A grocer sold me the food. Or a local farmer at a farmers market sold it to me directly. A distributor supplied food to the grocers. A laborer tilled the soil. Another farmer planted and planned. Years before that, someone else prepared and cared for the very soil.
I wear clothes today that someone else sewed. Someone designed. Someone developed the store. Someone else marketed and advertised and kept the books and answered the telephones.
I wake up in a house that someone planned and built. Someone financed. Someone loaned. Someone brokered. I used money that someone paid me. Someone advised the investments. Someone did the banking. Someone else arrived to repair plumbing and wiring and appliances.
I drive a car that someone built. Someone marketed. Someone built the factory. I use public transportation, busses and trains, that someone else built. Someone planned. Someone else sold the bonds. Someone else drove.
I live in a city that someone manages. Someone leads. Someone polices. Someone administers and protects and cleans and keeps the utilities going. Someone teaches students who will be my neighbors and future laborers with me. Someone provided all the communication devices and techniques around us.
I am alive today because someone diagnosed my illness in a hospital. Someone nurses. Someone prescribes medicine and attends to medical emergencies and advises my future health.
I write these words on a computer that someone researched and developed. Someone labored for the electricity that powers it. I read a book that someone wrote. I read a newspaper that someone laid out. For all our industries, someone fabricated the designs, mined the metal, built the machines, and then recycled the metal. Someone developed the commercial building that houses offices for all these laborers. Someone sold the land.
My soul is inspired today because someone sang, someone else painted, someone wrote, someone kissed me. Someone preached, someone taught, someone challenged me.
I live a fruitful life because many, many people have labored. I know that they did not always labor for me in particular. Maybe they labored because they needed a job. Maybe they labored because they loved someone and wanted to help them. But their labor has also helped me.
All our labor, together, is what makes us a society, a culture, a civilization. I give thanks for that labor today, for each and every vocation that God has given to each and every one of us. For those without jobs, I pray for their quick relationships with a fruitful vocation. God wants each of us not just to have a job, but to have a vocation – a calling-through which we can be proud that we are serving the world. When our labor makes a positive difference in the world around us, we truly have a vocation; and vocations, working together, create a beloved community. I give thanks for those vocations this year. Thanks to each and every one of you who serve!