Monday, October 13, 2008


Crimson Passion Flower

Passion has been on my mind lately.

There are so many ways that one can experience passion. The definition in the dictionary takes up about 30 lines. You can have a passion for something, or a passion for someone. You can experience it as a feeling or a thought. It can be positive or negative. Or it could be both at the same time. It can be an extreme trial (such as The Passion of Christ). It can be all consuming (passions usually are). It can be a physical manifestation of distress or excitement (both good and bad). It can be an intense anger or and intense feeling of love or lust.

Sometimes, my passion runs away with me. I allow my strong emotions to overpower my common sense, but indeed, that is the essence of a "passion". It defies logic. The trick is to master your passions and develop a passion for the "right" things. Right? But, what are the right things?

That's a question I have spent an entire weekend trying to answer for myself. Are the right things the ones that people will find "acceptable"? Are they the "normal things", like my children, my spouse, my religion, my music? They are surely not the things that will cause the world to crumble around me, like people and things that I cannot or should not have. Or should I govern my passions completely, as if I were a Benedictine Monk? Are passions something to be mastered, or leashed, if you will, even if they are for the "right" things?

The Latin word, from which Passion is taken, passionem, indicates that it is "suffering or enduring". No one ever said that life was easy. And passions, no matter what form they take, seem to be a trial for our spirits. They make our hearts beat faster. They make our breathing come more quickly. They can be frightening or exciting, or both at the same time. They make life colorful. They can feel like an explosion. They can cause trouble for us if we let them take control. Or they can turn us toward God who created them all for some purpose.

Now, if I could only figure out what that purpose is.

There is a hymn that I love called "Come Down, O Love Divine" by Ralph Vaughan Williams (whose birthday was yesterday, by the way...). The words were written by Bianco of Siena. The hymn is about the descent of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. It's an invitation to the Holy Spirit to dwell within our hearts. Here is the second stanza:

"O let it freely burn,
'til earthly passions turn To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming."

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