A Case of the Mondays
by Amy Cole
I woke up this morning with “A Case of the Mondays,” that morose condition of starting the day in a state of dread and disgust at the long list of things which must be done, appointments and commitments too long to list and too late to cancel. (Surely I could cancel them, but I don’t feel like I should…I secretly hope that maybe they will cancel on me!) Perpetual unfreedom is how I sum up “A Case of the Mondays.” Ah, but what if I pause for silence, prayer and reflection, and even a short walk? What if I confess to A Case of the Mondays and endeavor to be open to God’s answer?
I begin my day with silence, prayer and reflection and a walk. The quality of the silence is often determined by the sleepiness of my beagles, and today they are zonked and soundless. But the mental clamoring within me resembles beagles baying-not a pretty sound unless you are coon hunting. I try to breathe deeply. I light the candle. I read from Nan Merrill’s Praying the Psalms. A few lines from Psalm 109 stir something in me, even while I acknowledge the frenetic hiccups of my awareness.
Awaken me to the holy, to the divinity
of all creation;
O, that I might honor the sacredness
of all life!
I re-read the whole Psalm and again focus on the stanza that holds my attention and seems to put words on my intention. Still, I am anything but quiet within. (It feels like I am trying to stand on that giant exercise ball the yoga lady sold me.) I flip open Thomas Merton’s Praying the Hours to Monday, silently amused and humbled by my restless leapfrog among my stack of favorite books. My heart mumbles, Lord, I need you today. I just need you. Help me. Before long I gaze on my slumbering beagle, watching her chest rise and fall. I don’t know how much time passed. I return to my book. My eyes fall on Merton’s prayer: My only desire is to give myself completely to the action of this infinite love Who is God, Who demands to transform me into Himself secretly, darkly, in simplicity, in a way that has no drama about it and is infinitely beyond everything spectacular and astonishing, so is its significance and its power.
Yes. Yes. This is what I’d like to be saying. This is true for me. This is what I long for. I take deep breaths and close my eyes, letting certain words from the prayer linger, drifting to a soft landing within me. I can feel glimmers of hope coming. I wonder, how is it I can so quickly forget what brings me life? How is it I can wake up so lost and adrift in amnesia of the soul? Merton’s prayer helps remind me, ground me, guide me out of the blinding and numbing busyness of a case of the Mondays. I remember to breathe, again. As I breathe more deeply, the phrase “no drama” from his prayer echoes in my mind. That’s probably an invitation to me today. I tend to like drama, even though drama often leads me to exhaustion and really doesn’t necessarily add up to much.
Another phrase bubbles up. “Infinitely beyond everything spectacular.” I pause with this for a while, then grab my mittens and head out for a walk with God, holding bits and pieces of a prayer and a Psalm in my heart, aiming to simply be open. It is early spring, and though we had a cold snap overnight, the morning is definitely spectacular. Azaleas bloom red, white, and every shade of pink. Dogwoods sparkle. Redbuds dazzle with streaks of purple. Recent rains have greened up the grasses, and the huge, old pin oaks are unfurling their tender leaves. A white-throated sparrow sings, “O Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,” while cardinals and house wrens make up the background noise. In the second block from my house is a Cooper’s Hawk nest. There is no sign of Ms. Cooper this morning, but bird feathers carpet the grass, so clearly the hawk babies are not going hungry. In the next block, I notice the female red-shoulder hawk. She only leaves her nest for short periods now; her young ones won’t fly for another six weeks. The European starlings are onto Ms. Hawk and make enough fuss to send her hunting elsewhere. Lots of drama. And spectacular, too.
I walk through our small neighborhood park where groups of Canadian geese and mallards vie for the ponds. Last year’s tattered cat tails bend in the breeze. I hear the call of another red-shouldered hawk, presumably the male, continuing his alarm cry for several minutes. Finally I notice him sitting high in a tree across the street. As I approach, I hear a great-horned owl calling back to the hawk! This is all so crazy, so holy, and so wild… so God. It is the action of infinite Love, happening all around me, and, by grace, happening within me.
There is not really a point at which I am aware that my case of the Mondays has lost its grip on my heart. It just seems to have melted, or faded or slipped off into one of the ponds. The action is silent, and secret and hidden, and yet I know something is happening. I can see what is missing. I’ve somehow let go of all that I held so tightly that must be done today. A lot of it still needs to be done, but without the gun to my head, so to speak. I can exhale, and flames will not shoot from my mouth. My death grip on the day seems silly-a bad drama. And the essence of what has come instead is the delicate whisper of trust being born, or at least a fresh intention to trust, to live, to reverence, to adore… to give myself completely to the action of this infinite love Who is God.
Amy lives in an urban neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a 2005 graduate of Shalem’s Spiritual Guidance Program and a member of the SGP staff.