By Susan Klemond
Labor Day weekend is time to relax … or maybe not.
If there are a lot of projects and activities scheduled it can seem like the weekend is about our labor, not just a national celebration of work.
Whether it’s taking the last camping trip of the summer, hosting a family gathering, or starting on house winterizing projects, it seems there is always more work to be done. And maybe, after getting the kids ready for school and finishing up the work that couldn’t wait until Tuesday, we’re actually wiped out at the end of the long “restful” weekend.
It makes sense that our country should have a holiday celebrating labor. Work is a virtue if we don’t take it to the extreme.
But I wonder if we don’t sometimes take this work ethic into our spiritual life. On busy days it can be a challenge to get prayer time in. Other days I’m working hard to make it to Mass or go to confession and I find myself approaching these devotions like the other tasks I want to cross off my to-do list.
At least I try to fit prayer and devotions into my life, though it can be tempting to think if I just get them done I’ll have stored up enough spiritual capital for the rest of the day.
The Prophet Isaiah speaks to this:
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money
for that which is not bread,
And your labor for that which does not
Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in fatness. (Is. 55:1-2)
I read this and wondered if the Israelites had no money why was God telling them to “buy and eat?” “Without money and without price?” How can God ask them to “buy wine and milk?” Obviously, he has another form of currency than what they–and we–earn with our labor.
I think the key is in the last line: “Hearken diligently to me.” That means listen. Take time out from what we’re doing–even if we’re busy and it’s not prayer time–to be present to him just for a minute. Beyond all that we do, I believe God wants us to spend time with him and become accustomed to his voice. If we do that he will give us good things we couldn’t buy on our own, little graces like a beautiful sunset we might have missed, a nice surprise or a reminder to call a friend.
God must love work because he does it himself. But he also calls us to “waste” time with him now and then. I don’t think that necessarily means scrapping plans to clean the garage on Saturday but it could mean just taking time to connect with him halfway through the project so he can give us a drink of his water.
Susan Klemond is a free lance writer in St. Paul, Minnesota, who writes news and feature articles primarily about Church, life, marriage and family issues. In the content she writes for the National Catholic Register, OSV Newsweekly, St. Anthony Messenger and the Twin Cities’ diocesan paper, The Catholic Spirit, she seeks to serve her Catholic audiences by offering information, inspiration to grow in holiness and whenever possible, humor.