In ancient Greek the word skôle, from which our English word ‘school’ is derived, meant leisure. There were buildings were skôle occurred and the primary activity of leisure was learning. Effort was required here, but ultimately joy and recreation was had.
At some point down the line, Latin developed the word negotium, from which our word ‘business’ is derived, for the location. This concept eliminated—negated—leisure. Business became about the performance of required tasks and not the perfection of the mind.
Today, I think, we associate school, work, and most effort with negotium, not skôle. In turn, we see a holiday, like Labor Day, as a day off from work, which means a day of leisure, which means a day of doing nothing. Sure, we may do “something”, like go golfing or squeeze a lemon into a glass of ice cubes, tonic water, and gin, but we do not necessarily elevate our minds during this type of leisure. It is like we are on mental cruise control.
Might I propose we recapture the meaning of leisure? It may seem paradoxical, but it is more relaxing to us if our time of leisure is not deprived of effort. It is a leisurely activity to elevate our minds to the beyond, and when we do so we are perfected. Our bodies and souls move about life at greater ease. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, gazing in focused silence at a sunset, reading a novel and considering its significance: these are all acts of leisure. Even the drudgery of sawing wood can be skôle if we allow our minds to rise to the supernatural. A Laborer whom we all know did it for almost thirty years. All of his days were Labor Days and His work became His leisure.