The Dignity of Labor


All true work is more than a deep necessity laid upon life,—more than a precious discipline laid upon the soul. Necessity and discipline,—these words are too cold and too hard to express the loftier beauty in the face of Labor. It is more than these: it is a sacrament, a communion with God.

"If you would avoid uncleanliness and all the sins," says Thoreau, "work earnestly, though it be at cleaning a stable." No work that is sincere and useful is barren of divinity. "Work is worship," was a deep saying of the old monks. "What would you wish to be doing," some one asked a wise man, "if you knew that you were to die in the next ten minutes?" "Just what I am doing now," was the significant reply; although, at the time, the man was neither praying, nor singing hymns, but was merely feeding a horse. This philosopher knew that the path of service is the path of safety. He saw his work lit up by the ideal. Work is dull indeed unless we can see upon it some light from the skies.

The Giant Redwoods
August 14, 1902

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