Trading in Black Friday for Good Friday

Trading in Black Friday for Good Friday

One of Lent’s gifts to me is the painful realization that my default behavior is set on “Black Friday.” Here’s what I mean. It’s as if I’ve camped outside Target at 4:59 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving every day, poised and ready to run when the doors open at 5:00 a.m.—“Get out of my way”—into the store compulsively grabbing stuff to satisfy my undisciplined desires. And in the process, I’m perpetually and quite ironically elbowing the selfish people out of the way to make sure I get what I want.

Over dramatic? Perhaps. But all I know is that my compulsive business, my need to get everything on my daily checklist checked (that’s when you’ve got to get out of my way), being the star at work, and even praying hard that God would redeem my rookie sainthood: this is all so very exhausting.

I don’t know about you, but I like the sentimental idea of going into the desert with Jesus during Lent as long as I don’t have to stay there very long. As long as I don’t have to wait and be quiet, even when nothing seems to be happening, when—more than anything else—I don’t seem to be getting ahead and there’s nobody to force out of my way.

The desert, however, is no idea, but an interior place where desire and ambition slowly get tamed. And only there do the silent seeds of hope and peace have any chance at all of taking root. A good way to escape Black Friday to make room for Good Friday.

Photo: arturko/PhotoXpress


About the Author

Joe McHugh is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, "Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places" is available at He can be contacted at
  • Kevin Dolan

    Thank you for that reflection. I have to admit that it can be very challenging, here in New York, finding a desert in a culture that measures itself by what happens within the next minute. I suppose we can take solace in what Pope Francis said last week, “Nothing easy about being Christians.” Happy Easter.