It was the last day of a three-day personal retreat. My first two days had been spent alone in silence—reading, meditating on scripture, hiking, and writing. I had come to seek the heart of Jesus and get perspective. Now I stood in the icy white waters of the South Platte. It was early morning, steam was rising off the river and the sun’s rays were beginning to pierce through the Ponderosa Pines. The fading night was giving way to the rising sun and the sky had turned from grey to peach to a blue. All around me were cathedral like canyon walls draped in the first piercing signs of a new day.
Gripping my fly rod, I made my first cast and followed the fly through the ripples and curves of the fast moving stream. Out of the shadows, on the far bank, quietly and methodically stepped a doe and her fawn. We stared at each other for a moment, she took a drink. Both moved across the river without making a sound. Suddenly, without warning tears welled up. I began to sob.
Unable to stand, I walked over to the embankment and for the next hour pain, disappointment, and rage were unleashed. Something deep within was moving in my heart. I was reminded of something bigger and deeper within my soul, something that I needed, something that needed to be healed within me.
At that moment, now looking back, I recognize ache of my soul and the beauty of God’s heart. It was beauty. It was cleansing. It was the presence of God upon me. It was the passion of every man’s heart. The passion to find ourselves in the primeval touch of nature, wildness, and creation. I was rediscovering myself.
The word passion basically means “to be affected by.” It is the energy of the soul. Meaning that the affect of something giving us energy, a source for the desires of our heart. The fountainhead of passion is affected by what we see and feel. For me that morning, my passions were aroused and my heart came alive as I experienced the river, the canyon, and the untouched beauty of God’s magnificent work of art.
The passions of the heart capture the essence of our personhood. It is the core of our being as men. Yet we have been taught from childhood to disregard and even distrust our feelings. I didn’t know just how deeply my loss had been until I stepped into the river and felt the sensations of the beauty, majesty, and serenity of God being there. There was energy and it was piercing my heart. It was the presence of the living God.
On the road,