Todd Jenkins, one of the writers for Gifts in Open Hands from the United States maintains the wonderful Tuesday’s Muse with his poetry. This piece from last week speaks to the odd juxtaposition of the US holiday of Thanksgiving and the purchasing frenzy called Black Friday. At one time people got up and early hours in the morning to stand in line at stores. Now there are stores open in the evening of Thanksgiving.
On Friday workers are striking at one thousand stores of the retail giant Walmart, a long labor abuser known for unpaid mandatory overtime, low wages, unsafe working conditions and this year asking employees to come to work at 8 PM. I applaud this strike. Many activists suggest that people should not make any purchases this Friday, but I know so many small, family run businesses for whom this widespread practice would be disastrous and I would encourage those who wish to only patronize independent businesses.
by Todd Jenkins
The compound word has been co-opted,
not just by our national holiday,
but also by the commercialized pressure cooker
of the year-end retail bonanza;
Black Fridayed into a buying frenzy,
oblivious to the antithetical nature
of the whole holy day season,
tempted to equate overindulgence with blessing.
Then, the two words fall apart,
sometimes shattered by pain and loss,
other times by grace’s gag reflex,
momentarily glimpsing us the road ahead
like lightning flashes on a starless, dirt road night;
and we feel the connection between giving and thanks
viscerally, nourished by this relationship in ways
that finally satisfy hunger of the soul’s depth.
Thanksgiving is a gift, not for self or hoarding,
but for connecting our own threads
to the universe’s rich tapestry, extending
far beyond our own fences and gates;
it is neither virtue nor option,
not a way to live, but the essence of life itself;
holy extension of love that breathed us into being;
omni-dimensional reflection of divine design.
May we find ourselves, O God, early, often, and
far beyond the fourth Thursday of November,
offering thanks and glad to give from
the abundance of your creation’s treasure.