Monday. Ugh. The word purportedly derives from the Anglo-Saxon phrase mondandaeg, which means “The Moon’s Day.” That’s right. No joke. If true, then doesn’t that imply we should either still be in bed or out on the town!? Instead, many of us (okay, me) plod along as mopes of malcontent, one foot in front of the other—as if our legs had ankle weights—to the nearest shot of caffeine. Suitably doped, the next quest before us on “The Moon’s Day” concerns the Triple-Cs or what I not-so-affectionately call “the Machine”: concrete, cars, and crowds. Rumor has it, Friday derives from Frigga’s Day, from the Norse goddess Frigg, goddess of fertility and love. I wonder if that’s why we all love Friday—and don’t get all “wrong kind of ‘love’” with me Bucko! I can’t have your facts getting in the way of my feelings!

Sure, Hercules cleaned the Augean stables in a day, but Hercules had it easy. He dealt with swords, not smartphones; he faced a multi-headed hydra, not a multi-laned highway. Hercules conquered lions while I’m left dealing with lemmings. He had the luxury of knowing his enemies. I don’t have enemies—only fellow rats in the race or hamsters on the wheel. Try that one on Hercules, you protein-infused punk, and we’ll see how long you last! Just know that the Bangles nailed it in ‘86: “It’s just another manic Monday.” We are all driven to the defeatism of despair. Bitterness. All is lost.

Yet, in the daily doldrums, there is a flicker of light beckoning from somewhere to somewhere. Call it angst, call it desire, sehnsucht, heaven-pangs, hiraeth, nostalgia, yearning, or just good-old-fashioned hunger, but somewhere in the deep recesses of our souls, a voice whispers to push on, hold on, and carry on. Through the monotonous mayhem, we detect, like the whisper of a will-o’-the-wisp, speaking the word—the word calculated to restore my hopes and dreams: Friday. Like Shenzi and Banzai in The Lion King, shuddering at the mere mention of the name Mufasa, I whisper to myself, “Ooooh, do it again.” Friday, Friday, Friday. It tingles. Then I exit the car, round up my shoulders, and sally forth to storm the barricades shouting “Vive la liberté!” Or, in the language of plebs, rats, and hamsters, “Friday! Like, RIGHT NOW!”

Of a truth, I have experienced the siren’s song for Friday more times than I care to admit. However, I have also been strengthened in hope by a gospel perspective that not only changes my worldview but changes my soul. This change, like the rising of the sun, happens for me like “the slow and almost imperceptible increase in light on the horizon.”[1] I have discovered that when I apply this salvific salve, the Light of the Lord penetrates and permeates my soul. Moreover, the “scales of darkness” (2 Nephi 30:6) begin to fall as the coruscating light of the Lord illuminates the world and enlightens my soul.

The Daily Battle of Wills

Make no mistake, the battle is real. Day by day, I am beset by the obnoxious drumbeat of “My will! My will!” But no matter how incessant the thumping, I know asserting my will as opposed to affecting His will is a recipe for disaster. Indeed, the daily battle between Heaven’s Will and mine is the all-encompassing temporal task at hand. In typical Lewis fashion, the issue is both lucid, prescient, and definitely contributes to finding peace in the present: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”[2]

Time magazine asked C. S. Lewis if his quiet routine at Oxford was not somewhat monotonous. He tersely responded, “I like monotony.”[3] Lewis pitied those who said they had read a novel once like it was “yesterday’s newspaper,” or prides himself in having read the Odyssey, or Malory, or Boswel, or Pickwick as though once were enough. “It is as if a man said he had once washed, or once slept, or once kissed his wife, or once gone for a walk.”[4] Regarding the repetitive nature of life, Screwtape, Lewis’s inimitable devil, observed “the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change.”[5] Change requires humility–compelled or chosen–it is entirely up to us.[6] Addictions, primarily an addiction to self, require a steady, ever-increasing, and unsatiated diet.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught about the contrasting relationship between change from the outside and the spiritual change from within. He said, “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”[7]

When a young Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was sick and discouraged while serving as a missionary in the British Isles, he wanted to return home. The opposition to the work of the Lord was discouraging to him, and in frustration, he wrote a letter home to his father saying he had wasted his time and his father’s money. Bryant S. Hinckley, never one to dawdle, promptly sent a letter to his son. It said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.”[8]

In a letter to Dom Bede Griffiths in 1951, Lewis wrote, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first & we lose both first and second things. We never get, say, even the sensual pleasure of food at its best when we are being greedy.”[9] The irony of the gospel is that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). “Joy,” therefore, according to President Russell M. Nelson, “has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”[10]

Having said all of this, some long for the love that “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7), and yet there is still a void, darkness, or claustrophobic closet that seemingly cannot be breached. They have come to the end of themselves with no light apparently present or discernibly beckoning. In such cases, counseling is critical.[11] Getting outside perspective from trained, competent, and (most importantly), Christ-centered sources is fundamental in setting things right. After all, “man is that he might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). For most, however, the key is that we must learn to prioritize first and second things. Goethe allegedly counseled, “things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

The Meaning of the Mundane and Monotonous 

I do not believe when Jesus beckoned the children to come unto him and then declared, “of such is the kingdom of God” he was pandering to modern sensibilities regarding children (see Mark 10:13-16). Chesterton wrote about the relationship between the “Same Old Thing” and the similarity between the character of God and children. Chesterton observed much of materialism is based upon a “false assumption.” The assumption is that “if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance.” I note here that according to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the sun, and all creation, are very much alive (see Doctrine and Covenants 88). Chesterton continues:

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. . . . It might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. . . . Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.[12]

A Restoration of the Mundane and Beatific Vision of the Monotonous

Language evolves. This is not a bad thing but a statement of reality. To deduce meaning, we must understand the context to have clarity. To our contemporary world, the English word mundane carries with it a sense of “ugh,” “boring,” droll, and something obnoxiously repetitive. That’s a pity. The word derives from the Latin mundus, which is the word the Romans used for the earth, sky, sun, heaven, mankind, a neat and clean person, or even beauty aids. The axis mundi refers to the place where heaven meets earth, and this typically occurs in temples. To the Jews and early Christians, the axis mundi was Jerusalem. In other words, the mundane is beautiful and transforming to those who have eyes to see.

Nephi calls the covenant path the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:18). This path is mundane and monotonous in the divine, as well as the mortal sense. To see “things as they really are,” we must be born anew to cast aside the darkened lenses upon our eyes.[13] The Lord offers us glimpses, signposts, and tokens along the way that provide hope as we press forward upon the mundane and monotonous strait and narrow path. C. S. Lewis wrote in his autobiography, “when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare. They will encourage us and we shall be grateful to the authority that set them up. But we shall not stop and stare, or not much; not on this road, though their pillars are of silver and their lettering of gold. ‘We would be at Jerusalem.’”[14] The New Jerusalem is our destination, and covenant-keeping is our call.

As children of God, we are not only created in his image but created to be His image. We are the “temple of God.” No wonder there are heavenly mandates and covenant obligations in keeping both the brick and bodily temples separate and sanctified from pollution and perversion. We are designed to be both the receptacle for God’s Spirit, and a magnification of it. We are to be both the place and the power whereby God renews his creation.[15] The dedicated brick and mortal temples are sacred spaces where God’s children are washed, anointed, endowed, and sealed to be the image of The Temple—the Lord Jesus Christ—and He can manifest his presence on the earth through his child as an axis mundi.

Recently, during the renovation of the Salt Lake temple, the capstone was opened, and the contents revealed. President Russell M. Nelson and the other members of the First Presidency were shown the contents of the capstone on May 20, 2020.[16] Among the artifacts was a book that has blessed my life for years: Parley P. Pratt’s Key to the Science of Theology. Elder Pratt penned a statement that resonates with my soul and beckons me, like pillars of silver with lettering of gold, to qualify for the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost. He wrote:

The gift of the Holy Ghost … quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.[17]

My favorite passage from Tolkien’s inspired work The Lord of the Rings occurs when Frodo and Sam have entered the forbidden lands, darkness falls, Mount Doom looms large, and they are scrambling and scraping their way to the Crack of Doom. In the darkness of the Shadowlands, Sam, who has eyes to see, looks to the heavens and perceives:

Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim…. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.[18]

The “light and high beauty are forever beyond the reach” of shadow, but such light and beauty need not be beyond ours. Alma counseled us to do likewise, to “see that ye look to God and live” (Alma 37:47). I am grateful there has been a restoration of all things, including the restoration of the mundane and the monotonous. As we choose to “grow up” in the Lord, we will receive a “fulness of the Holy Ghost,”[19] and all things, including our vision, feelings, ideas, perception, and even our mundane Mondays, will become renewed, restored, reborn, rejuvenated, and ultimately, resurrected. No longer will we languish in pitiless indifference, but we will hear the loving lilt of the Lord’s love. With Lewis, I can sincerely claim that “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.[20]


[1] See Elder David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,” General Conference, April 2011.

[2] C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Revised edition, (New York: HarperOne; 2015), 75.

[3] https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,804196-1,00.html; accessed August 8, 2020.

[4] C. S. Lewis, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, Reissue edition, (New York: HarperOne, 2017), 187.

[5] C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Reprint edition, (New York: HarperOne, 2015), 135-36.

[6] See 2 Nephi 2:13-14; Alma 32:16; Elder David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning by Faith,” Ensign, September 2007.

[7] Ezra Taft Benson, “Born of God,” General Conference, October 1985.

[8] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/1995/05/sweet-is-the-work-gordon-b-hinckley-15th-president-of-the-church?lang=eng; accessed August 8, 2020.

[9] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vol. III, Narnia, Cambridge and Joy, 1950-1963, ed. Walter Hooper, (HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 111.

[10] “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” General Conference, October 2016. Incidentally, search the phrase quoted above to see how many leaders of the Church have used that statement. That’s a statement for the fridge, the wall, and definitely, the heart.

[11] See https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2013/10/like-a-broken-vessel?lang=eng;  accessed August 8, 2020.

[12] Orthodoxy, “The Ethics of Elfland”; https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/130/pg130.html.

[13] See Jacob 4:13; 1 Corinthians 13:12.

[14] Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2017), 290-91.

[15] See Genesis 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:15-20; Mosiah 2:37-38; and Doctrine and Covenants 93:35-36.

[16] https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/salt-lake-temple-capstone-opened-2020; accessed August 8, 2020.

[17] Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, 7th ed. [1915], 95-96; (spelling updated; digital source: https://archive.org/details/keytoscienceofth00pratrich).

[18] The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), 901.

[19] Doctrine and Covenants 109:15.

[20] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2015), 140.