September 5, 2020
By Sean Kelly, Kendal’s President and CEO
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania—As the sun was rising and I drove past a familiar flagpole marking the halfway point of my morning ride, I was thinking about the notion of “labor.” My first thoughts went to the labor that brings the joy, the beauty and the possibilities that come with seeing new lives coming into this world. I’ve been reminded many times by my wife of the anxiety, uncertainty and pain that also comes with labor. I’ve also been told, that in many cases, the “pain” can be fleeting as it is overwhelmed by the love of another that comes along with this precious work. A labor of love indeed.
Along my ride, I began thinking of labor in other ways too. The idea of tired muscles and sweating under the hot sun working outside provided an image for me. Likewise, the notion of fighting to get up out of a warm bed before sunrise on a snowy winter morning to make the commute to get to the job to take on a project, to do the job, whatever it might be, came to mind. I thought of labor as tiring, if not exhausting sometimes. Labor as work.
So, as I pedaled along, I wondered to myself about labor as work, why do we willingly take on the things that make us tired, the things that take us out of our warm beds? And I thought again about labor of love. As people, we often take up the hard work in the name of another or in the name of something to be made better. We work, we labor, to make a difference in our own lives, the lives of our families and in the lives of the people we might be lucky enough to serve.
The labor of love in Kendal’s work and in the work of so many of our brothers and sisters across our field has always been there, but it’s been on full display over these last six months in particular. It shows up in a kind gesture, lending a hand, words of appreciation, a listening ear, a smile through a mask, a gentle touch. It’s also evident in a steely determination to press on and make the lives of others better in this wild time, a “can-do” attitude, the deployment of creative solutions to new problems every day, the building of community, the honoring of each person we bump into.
Why do we do it? It’s hard. It’s constant. In these times in a world turned upside down, it seems daunting. Perhaps it’s because it is a labor of love.
So my ride goes on and my mind wanders some more. The sun’s getting a little higher on the horizon, and then I notice one more thing. It’s the next song shuffling through my inexplicable playlist: U2, Pride (“In the Name of Love“). It’s a live version from the ’80s, and the answer to my question—Why?—was affirmed. Indeed, “In the Name of Love.”
And if you have time to look into the meaning in this song, it’s inspiration, I think you too will find that where there is purpose and aspiration for something better, there is incredible strength to endure the hardest parts of labor. It’s worth it.
As we move toward Labor Day, I just want to express my appreciation for all of the incredible work and the power that comes from the working so hard, extra hard, toward the things that matter to Kendal—and especially to your families and the communities that you all so deeply impact in these unsettling times.