I'm not a holy roller by any means, but I do enjoy my Pastor's sermons at my church. Today was no exception. His question to his congregation today was, "Does anything amaze you anymore?"
With Labor Day upon us, that got me thinking. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, tomorrow's holiday is a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Think of all the amazing feats that encompasses.
Just last night I was reading my son a book entitled "Sky Boys", which described in kid-friendly detail the enormous amount of work it took to build the Empire State Building back in 1931. Three thousand men, seven million man hours, one year and 45 days. The building was built in record time, they say, because each man working on the job knew that if he didn't do his best, there were hundreds of jobless men waiting to take his spot. Amazing.
As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we remember those who lost their lives, and the extraordinary stories of heroism we may never know. Firefighters. Police Officers. A band of brothers who risk their lives nearly every day to keep our cities safe. Doctors and nurses performing "miracles" - saving lives yet having to experience death all too often.
And of course, let's not forget the men and women in the Armed Forces that are defending and improving our country every day. What is most amazing to me is that these are ordinary people - some of whom have witnessed horrors and atrocities that none of us could even imagine. Yet they go on, and continue their commitment to the U.S. of A.
The same goes for anyone in a service industry - I'm amazed that our mail lady makes it around the mounds of snow drifts that accumulate in our court every winter. I'm amazed at the construction workers who take an enormous amount of heat for their dangerous job of trying to improve Peoria's roads. I'm amazed at the teachers I spoke of the other day - who shape our children's education and who will be "that teacher" that some child remembers as an influential part of their lives 20, 30 or 40 years from now.
But let's focus in a little more. It's easy to "be amazed" at the bigger picture. But along with amazement comes appreciation, and there are some pretty amazing things happening right in front of your nose.
Look at your kids. Really look at them. I was studying my son sitting next to me in church today and marveling at the discrepancy between his long, sinewy legs and his ginormous feet. The gentleman who always sits a few rows back from us commented to me at the end of the service, "I think they both grow a few inches every week!" I look at my oldest son - on the verge of becoming a teen - and am struck by how his baby face is still perfectly visible - to me, anyway. Was it really 12 years ago??!!
I am constantly amazed that I am a parent - and a grownup. It seems like just yesterday I was playing dress up on our front porch, riding my bike or playing in the playhouse my dad built. Now I'm in charge, and I look around in somewhat sad amazement at how the world is changed. Gone are the days when you can let your kids take off with their friends only to return when the street lights go on. Today's kid is hooked up and wired in - be it a cell phone, PS2, Gameboy, XBox, Wii, computer, or what my friend refers to as "the idiot box", or TV.
But what amazes me in a good way is that if you turn all that noise off and take out a board game, or a basketball, or a bin full of Legos, your kids will be just as engrossed as they would be playing "Need for Speed".
Finally, I am amazed that we live in a world with so many opinions, so many discrepancies, so many rights and wrongs, yet we are all still here. We have not imploded in on ourselves. That to me says we are to some extent aware of what we have, and if not amazed, at least somewhat thankful.
So as you party, picnic or just put your feet up this Labor Day, take a moment to recognize and appreciate those for whom the day is celebrated. Then go one step further... and find something in your life that is truly amazing. You'll be glad you did.