Friday, November 25, 2016

Green Friday

"Everything Belongs"
 - Outside the Desert Retreat House -

For many Americans this day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday,” the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Eager shoppers flock to local malls, loading up their carts with big-screen TVs, video games and electronic devices as they take advantage of the many so-called bargains and sales available.

In the region where we live the malls actually opened up last night just after the big turkey feast so that people could shop all night long. This morning I saw pictures of a local shopping center- folks were standing in line to get into it and the parking lot was so packed that there was room left to park your car. 

Interestingly enough, here in the State of California officials have proclaimed today as “Green Friday” and all the state parks are attracting visitors by offering free admission to over 100 magnificent landscapes replete with all the wonders of nature - wildlife of every ilk, flowers that bloom in the midst of winter, towering snow-capped mountains, desert vistas, beaches and views of the ocean.

As for me, I’ll take Green Friday over Black Friday any day.

I am reminded of something once written by scientist and ecologist, Thomas Berry:

Our ancient ancestors lived in a universe, in a cosmological order.
Today people no longer live in a universe,
we live in a political world, a nation, a business world, an economic order.
We live in cities of concrete and steel, in a world of business and work,
highways and parking lots and shopping centers.
We no longer see the stars at night or the planets or the moon,
summer and winter are the same inside a mall.

I find great wisdom in this insight. Our so-called primitive ancestors lived in a world of nature, a world where everything was bigger than a tiny individual person.  Living in a world of nature everyone knew they belonged to everything and everyone else.

Priest and author, Richard Rohr, put it this way:

Simply by watching the sky, birds and trees,
the seasons darkness and night,
our ancient ancestors knew they belonged.
They lived in an inherently enchanted universe where everything belonged,
including themselves.

Today we live in a nation and a world that seems so fractured and so divided, everyone competes against everyone else and rampant consumerism seems to be the order of the day.  Maybe we have too many malls, too many crowded parking lots and too many “Black Fridays,” maybe we need a lot more “Green Fridays?” 

The poet William Kittredge aptly describes the spiritual lethargy that occurs when we we cut ourselves off from the natural world:  

We evolved in nature.
If you isolate human beings from the natural world for too long
we start getting nervous, crazy, unmoored,
driven to thoughtless and ambitions and easy cruelties

I wonder if we shouldn’t abolish Black Friday altogether and replace it with Green Friday every year on this day after Thanksgiving? 

You don’t have to live in a beautiful desert or be a resident of California and go to a park to celebrate Green Friday today. Just take a walk outside no matter where you live, breathe in the fresh air, take in the sunshine or feel the falling rain, listen to the birdsong, look at the trees, inhale the frosty winter air or pay attention to your feet as they crunch against the snow or the sand.  You can’t do any of that if you are stuck inside a mall.

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