Anyone ever see real passion? I’m not talking about romantic, amorous passion. I’m talking about the kind of passion that sweeps into someone’s life and tugs, pushes, cajoles, and otherwise propels the afflicted toward something they hope to accomplish or attain. It can seem like passion possess the person it chooses. Anyone who has seen real passion knows that the products of passion are exhilarating. But that brings us back to the question, “Anyone ever see real passion?”
My hunch is that if you have, when you read that question, something snapped into your mind from somewhere in your memory. You saw a face or an action of someone you know or met. That’s what passion does. Even another person’s passion leaves us with rich, lasting memories. Preachers, athletes, performers—these are people we sometimes think of as examples of passion. Who doesn’t recall the passion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s gripping oratory and calls to revolution? Who can forget the incredible selfless performances of athletes like Kerri Strug during the Olympics, vaulting onto a broken leg to win her team gold. And the list of performances fueled by passion could go on and on.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had a front row seat, a passenger seat, really, for what comes of passion. The shape of this passion is that of a friend undertaking an artistic endeavor never before attempted on these islands. I will not risk the artist’s privacy or the appearance of promotion here of this endeavor, except to say this:
I wish we all could know this kind of passion.
And I would not wish this kind of passion on anyone.
Now quick, take hold of the seeming conflict in these statements. Grasp tight what looks like their disagreement. Wring every last drop out of the incongruities, the misalignments you think you sense in them. And now…let them go. Release all of the tension you feel. OK, now you are feeling a touch of what passion really is like: waves of impossible crash against the shores of assurance.
Passion calls us into a new reality. Those who answer this call face first an old reality that tells them “No,” that tells them, “Don’t pass this way,” that tells them, “Go back.” For some, these directions come from fear. For others these directions come from simple logic. And for still others, these directions come from a reality as mundane as an overdrawn bank account. No. Don’t pass this way. Go back.
And that is when it happens. That is when the surf slides into an assurance of ages unknown, unrecorded. That is when we know every single ancestor we have never even known did the best they could to create this moment, this very instant. And this I do wish for every precious person: know that this is when the conundrum of our existence is resolved in the deep knowledge that we are each a separate passion of this world, born against the odds of ages, and flaring forth a miracle.
Anyone ever see real passion? Take a look in the mirror, friends.
And may it ever be so,
Rev. T. J.