Years ago, Kris Kristofferson had a pretty big hit with a song he wrote (recorded by others including Johnny Cash) called “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” It was an incredible piece of penmanship (aside from the musical merits of the song). I mean, how can one get past lyrics like this?
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone
And there's nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
To be honest, Sunday mornings have always been “just alright with me.” Usually, they are pretty peaceful. There was a time when most Sunday mornings found me in church. To be honest, I didn’t chafe against it as much as some of my contemporaries. There was something, well, sacred, about Sundays. It was a chance to reflect on the week that had gone by. I could acknowledge where I’d messed up (sometimes, pretty badly), and it was also a time for forgiveness with an eye to the future.
I’ll have to confess that I always embraced the liturgy of the church I’d attended as a young person in which we would acknowledge, “I have done that which I ought not to do and left undone the things I should have done.” Somehow, there was always at least a shred of hope in Sunday mornings for me. Life wasn’t perfect. I was a perpetual screw-up. But there was always a sense of redemption in Sunday mornings for me. I know not everyone felt that way, but Sunday mornings were bittersweet for me. I was confronted with my failings, but also saw a way to move forward.
I always felt different about late Sunday afternoons and evenings. I’ll confess that I often dreaded those times—and sometimes still do. They were often peaceful, quiet times when everybody was finishing up their weekends. Some were almost maniacally trying to squeeze the last drops of enjoyment and release out of their weekend. Others already had that resigned look in their eyes as they headed back home to crash before facing “the world” again the next morning.
Like Sunday mornings, Sunday afternoons were bittersweet. Most of my memories of them were sun-dappled and calm. There was still no threat of the weekday to come. But there was an almost ominous sense of looming . . . what? I never really knew. All I knew is that I wasn’t quite ready to face it. Friday and Saturday had been fun and carefree. But somehow, as Sunday afternoon wore on, I knew that Monday morning was coming.
It was almost a reminder that I was returning to the same old grind. The hope I’d felt on Sunday morning was sorely tested and often didn’t hold up very well. It’s one thing to be encouraged and hopeful on a Sunday morning. It’s quite a different thing to be facing a new day and a new week, knowing that the same challenges (and perhaps defeats) were awaiting you.
I wish I could say that this was something I grew out of as I grew older. In fact, if anything, the feeling has intensified with time. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many good intentions dashed on the rocks of reality. Jesus once said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. But I don’t think I ever grasped how weak the flesh really is. And nothing seems to reinforce that quite like a Sunday evening.
As the sun dips toward the horizon, I often find that my spirit dips with it. While Friday afternoons seem full of promise and hope (even if it’s a false hope), Sunday evenings so often seem to be an unwelcome reminder that reality waits just around the corner. You had your fun, now it’s time to pay the piper—or at least head back to the things that made you long for the weekend in the first place.
But you know, it’s really not that bad. We’ve all survived a Sunday evening or two. We’ve all seen good intentions and promises fade a bit. But most of us, somehow, find the strength to get up on Monday morning, and take another stab at it. Maybe it’s just habit. Maybe there’s enough Sunday morning left over to recharge our batteries and keep us going.
Or maybe it’s what the ancient Psalmist was talking about thousands of years ago, when he penned these words:
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
I have to confess that I still sometimes dread Sunday evenings. But it’s nice to think that a shout of joy can still come on Monday morning.