On Sundays, I write a “Sabbath” post that takes its title from the similarly named poems of Wendell Berry. These poems are not preachy or philosophic. Like much of Berry’s writing, they are simple reflections on how we do live and how we should live.
In that spirit, I want to ask: How insane have we gotten that people have to do their “Black Friday” shopping on the evening of Thanksgiving? How selfish have we gotten that we will deny a day of rest to others so we can get a discount?
Our lives have become a mess of schedules and deadlines. Few people work 40 hour weeks. Our time off is a matter of running from place to place. Even the lives of children have become organized nightmares of leagues and structured activities. We seem to have lost the ability to sit quietly and enjoy a peaceful moment. The business lie of productivity where no minute can be waste has seeped into our personal lives. “Are you making the best use of your time?”
Americans should remember the lesson of the Sabbaths our grandparents enjoyed. We need time off to rest and clear our heads. We need that time to reflect on what is really important and what we should be most thankful for. In Berry’s words:
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will stand though all
Fall – field and woods and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath’s hymn.
What is that hymn? Peace, which is what I wish all on this Thanksgiving day: Peace.
Writing in Huffington Post, Danielle Tumminio, author of God and Harry Potter at Yale, explores a theme that I have visited in this blog: Sabbath rest. My inspiration has been the thinking and writing of Wendell Berry. Tumminio is inspired by something much larger and frightening: hordes of Black Friday shoppers.
She notes the irony of a country that prides itself on Judeo-Christian values ignoring one of the first lessons of the Bible – on the seventh day, God rested. We are almost crazed in our activities related to Thanksgiving: traveling, shopping, cleaning. Worse still, we now have the crowded, grabbing insanity of Black Friday. Tuminnio reminds us that some time on the couch (with the TV off) would be a good thing.
All I can say to this fine post is: Amen.