In the Sway Of Peril’s Way

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Do you love to shop?

It’s no wonder that so many people do. In this modern world of amazing gadgets and gizmos, of got-to-have-it doodads and devices, our eyes are assaulted daily with alluring goods to have and to hold.

Shopping today is America’s national pastime. Department stores, brand stores, and malls have become our culture’s popular destinations for their feast of tempting consumables. In our collective consciousness, needing has been overrun by the habit of wanting. “Shop ’til you drop” is the motto of some, who wear it like a badge to be admired.

Fashion, too, is sold with enormous appeal, as if it were the Holy Grail of social acceptance. We have become a nation of fashion conformists. Although our choice of furnishings, outfits, and accessories may appear to us to be unique, the greater truth is that Madison Avenue tells us what is “in”, and we choose from the choices it gives us. In total, its array of genres, colors, types, models, facsimiles, and styles is patently staggering, which enables the impression that we are not like everyone else.

Someone once noted humorously that fashion is that which “goes in one year and out the other,” but that hardly deters a great many folks from climbing aboard the train to trendy persuasion. America’s economic health is fed by and large by money spent as latest fashions prescribe.

Is this bad? Does it make us wrong?

In a deep sense, yes, it is and it does. That is not to say that a person who loves to shop is bad, but shopping just to shop, or to be on a constant lookout for the next impulsive purchase, is time spent without meaning or personal growth.

And worse, it is a misdirection of love. Energy and vitality flow out of us with every material desire we express. It is not surprising to observe that shoppers who shop to shop, spending their love like largesse in dreams or pursuit of unneeded possessions, often have less of it to give to others and to God.

Each of us likes what we like, and owning things of quality and utility is highly practical. The only question is, how often are those items put to use or properly enjoyed? Are they operated, handled, worn, driven, applied, maintained, and valued as their quality and utility would merit? Or do they live in closets, drawers, shelves, sheds, garages, or in plain sight, seldom remembered except as part of one’s cache?

I do not exclude myself from wanting things that I do not need. Things of beauty, refinement, comfort, and convenience provide a source of pleasure that does no harm. For the sake of our love, however, it is crucial that we discriminate between having enough and too much. When simplicity crosses the line to excess, our spiritual vitality suffers the effect.

Temperance is love. Prudence is love. In cultivating them, our love expands, and with it a joy that acquisitions and fashion cannot match.