My alarm goes off at 6:15 a.m.  It takes me a few minutes to turn on the light, turn off the alarm, and decide to drag myself into the day.  I pull on old sweats marked with wear and the grass stains from working in my yard last weekend.  As I lace my three-year-old Nike’s, I feel an increasingly familiar ache in my right knee.  I strained my MCL this past Spring, and even after physical therapy, the strain still pulls with a stab of pain when I bend my knee.  I do a few half-hearted stretches, all the while muttering, “I want to go back to bed!”  I step into the dark and chill of a Colorado fall morning and feel and hear the crunch of leaves under my feet.  As I begin to run/walk, half-limp around my neighborhood I wonder why I do this. The extra pounds that I have put on over the summer months as well as the aches and pains that always welcome me to my morning exercise tell me that I’m probably not doing much to slow down the march of time.  I remember learning the Second Law of Thermodynamics — something about inevitable decay.  Things are not getting better and better.

And then fifteen minutes into my jog it happens.  It always happens.  There has not been a day that it hasn’t happened.  It doesn’t matter how tired I am or grouchy or full of dread about the day ahead.  It doesn’t matter what happened the day before — whether good or bad, whether the stock market plummeted or stayed even, whether my phone rang with meaningful calls from friends or recorded messages from politicians — it always happens. 

The sun rises.  I hum a few lines from a favorite hymn:
                                              There is a light, there’s a light in the darkness
                                              And the black of the night cannot harm us.
                                             We can trust not to fear for our comfort is near
                                             There’s a light, there’s a light in the darkness.

Surely the sun rising is a demonstration of God’s passion for us — the reminder of a Lover both Ancient and New whose “mercies are new every morning.  Great is his faithfulness”  (Lamentations 3). There is something about experiencing God’s passion every morning in the dawn of my familiar neighborhood, wearing my shabby workout clothes, and feeling the groans of my very body that teaches me most profoundly about passion.  Passion is not necessarily what we view in the scenes of Hollywood movies that make us blush with half-clothed romance or cause our hearts to beat faster in the midst of unrealistic epic adventures.  Sue Monk Kidd writes a better perspective of passion, “I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity.  When I looked it up in my dictionary however, I found that the words passive and passion come from the same Latin root, pati, which means “to endure.”  Waiting is thus both passive and passionate.  It’s a vibrant, contemplative work.  It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer.  It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely.  It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision.”

Participating in the passion of God every morning gives me keener vision to see true passion during the rest of my day.  These are some of the passionate acts I’ve witnessed this week:

* The woman in mid-life who goes back to work full-time to help make ends meet, accepting a $7.02 an hour job with gratitude.
* The man who quits smoking for the fifth time.
* The friends who have a hard conversation believing that speaking the truth in love is really the glue of growing relationships.
* The teenager who walks down the hallway of her new high school, makes eye-contact with kids she doesn’t know, and smiles.
*The 22-year-old who celebrates seven months of sobriety.
*The couple in a difficult, disintegrating marriage who decide to begin again, believe again, forgive again, and risk again.
*The five women — in their thirties — who pray together every week, asking God to help them live well with their desire to be married and their disappointments in waiting.
*The man who blew it big-time and shows up at church on Sunday, knowing everyone knows, and yet believing as he participates in communion that he is exactly where he needs to be.

And so tomorrow I will reach for my alarm clock, lace my Nike’s, and start my morning exercise half-heartedly, half-awake . . . but anticipating the faithful, steadfast, unfailing, unconditional passion of God to awaken my own passion.  I will pray that the glory shining through the dark remnants of the morning will shine in me, and that experiencing God’s passion will remind me to give deep inner assent to who I was meant to be — that the new day will compel me to live as a brand-new creation.

“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.  The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!  Lookat it!  All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.  God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.”  2 Corinthians 5