Sunday Morning Coming Down
“You are the God who sees me, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.
“God sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12
Kris Kristopherson’s song has always intrigued me; certainly its memorable tune and Kristopherson’s and Johnny Cash’s renditions among others; but it is the realistic, sorrowful story that especially intrigues me. You will have to refresh your own memory of its verses, but here is the chorus:
“On the Sunday morning sidewalk, Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned, ‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday, Makes a body feel alone. And there’s nothing short of dying, half as lonesome as the sound, On the sleepin’ city sidewalks; Sunday morning coming down.
The unmistakable theme is the loneliness portrayed and felt as you listen to the song and perhaps are reminded of similar experiences in your own life. I dare say we have all experienced loneliness. From Adam in the garden to the present day, loneliness has haunted mankind. And its effect upon us is so profound that it produces a sense of hopelessness that devastates the soul. It certainly precipitates feelings and even, in time, acts of suicide, because the emotional pain is too great to bear.
But there is more to Kristopherson’s song as the loneliness is precipitated most by Sunday mornings and what they represent. Many would simply associate the emotion here with the hangover of a Saturday night bender; and Kristopherson does not deny that. But there are few if any critiques that see the peculiar meaning of Sunday morning other than that it is simply the day after Saturday night. The 3rd verse, however, speaks of stopping beside a Sunday school and listening to the song they were singing, and then in the distance hearing a lonely [church] bell ringing. This loneliness is not only associated with the internal guilt and emptiness which are vestiges of being stoned (or drunk), and of having no comfort from what one knows down deep is a life moving in the wrong direction; but it is a loneliness rising from the belief that there is really no one “out there to whom to relate in the depths of the soul. There is no person, no family, no friend who is able to remove the loneliness resulting from a powerlessness to change, to lead you to any lasting fulfillment, to give you genuine satisfaction in your existence, nor to give hope in an unknown future. Death, especially, is a great dread.
I have been reading Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith , May 2010. Peter’s brother is the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens, the author of God is Not Great among other books denying the existence of God. Peter’s book is worth the read if only for comparing the mind and heart of the two brothers. Christopher is very ill with cancer and his days may be short. He has family, friends, and colleagues, who will be relating to him in the time remaining. But none can encourage him about the future; none can give him hope, nor can he himself, for he has no hope of anything beyond his death. His belief is that death for him is the end; it is a state of nothingness. Everything for him stops abruptly; it is over. I can guarantee you that with such a perspective Christopher is lonely. What keeps him from considering the truth of his own brother’s pilgrimage, belief, and hope? Simply his pride! Hard as it is, he would rather cling to his life-long, self-built beliefs than face the inevitable Christ-less eternity. Christopher Hitchens has no scientific proof, which he claims as the foundation of his beliefs, for what comes after his last breath. In this his science and unbelieving scientist friends have no answers other than dissecting and burying the spiritless decaying flesh and bones that remain. Peter differs from his brother in that he is, in all honesty, neither lonely nor hopeless, but prays earnestly for his brother, even as he tries to still converse with him about the truth that is.
As I have watched the unbelieving die, I have sometimes thought of Kristopherson’s song. If you have no hope, if the words of the One who brings hope are scorned, then you might as well be “stoned to mask the loneliness. But take note of this: there will be no availability of substances in eternity with which to get stoned.
“From the depth of nature’s blindness, from the hard’ning power of sin, from all malice and unkindness, from the pride that lurks within, by thy mercy, O deliver us, good Lord.
(2nd verse of James Cummins hymn, “Jesus, Lord of Life and Glory, 1839)
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