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The last long weekend of summer (until Thanksgiving) is almost upon us. It seems as if everyone is asking, “What are you doing for Labor Day?” The grocery stores are stocking up for the final BBQ extravaganza – the weekend where we gather with friends and sit by whatever water we can find, to share food and stories and laughter.

While Labor Day is ostensibly a holiday to celebrate the labor movement and the advancement of worker’s achievements, it most often reminds me of the importance of the “micro” view of the world. Looking at it from the perspective of the small, component parts of the modern world, I see the value that each of us bring, a day at a time, to the symbiotic relationships of life. Our individual effort, offered with joy and intention, makes a difference – a big difference – in the unfolding of our work and our relationships and our ministry. We can each be a part, do our part, and celebrate a part of our here-and-now life.

At the same time, Labor Day also reminds me that the metaphors of “machine” and “assembly line” have become pervasive in describing both our micro and our macro lives – to our significant detriment. Life is not a machine; it is an organism. Life does not mass-produce identical widgets; all of life is unique, individual and home-grown. From our education system to our churches, from our theories of child development to processes of business management, the machine and assembly line metaphors have robbed us of the value and distinctiveness, connectedness and creativity, of all living things.

This week, and especially this weekend, let’s each do a small thing to disassemble the metaphors of the factory, and put a little fertilizer on the metaphor of organism. Celebrate diversity. Find examples of movement and different stages of growth. Look for living things responding or adapting to their environment in different ways. Enjoy all of the beauty you can embrace and start the fall season of work and ministry busyness with a full heart.

YouTube playlist – ST#74 Not a Machine