Labor Day Devotional

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28


I met a young Latino woman with two small children at the park today. Her boys and my son ran around the playground together, while we chatted on the bench.

We talked about the weather, agreeing it was far too hot. We talked about having boys, agreeing it was far too crazy. She told me that she worked as a night security guard, every night, from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM then she comes home and sleeps for an hour and then her two-year old wakes up, and her day job as a mother begins. She said, “I am so tired, but I want to work that shift so I can be home with my babies.”

“Yes,” I said, “I understand.” She wore a beautiful crucifix around her neck. Her son wore a sparkly ball cap with the Virgin Mary on the front. He and my son ran and ran, with no burdens or worries in sight.

On this Labor Day weekend, I am thinking about and praying for the worker. Those who clean, drive, sort, serve, haul, plow, till, guard, and labor. All who make our communities safe, beautiful, clean, and whole. May they know good rest.

I love this poem by Robert Frost. I can sense his fatigue after a long day of laborious apple picking and his desire for good rest.

After Apple Picking, Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

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