Passion definition: great enthusiasm for something; moved by strong emotion; the state of being acted upon or affected by something; expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling.
Agape definition: Being in a state of astonishment, wonder, expectation, or eager attention; as with mouth hanging open.
This past month I found myself fascinated by these two words. My question to you, before I even begin this essay, is how often do YOU find yourself using these words to describe events or feelings that you have experienced recently?
First, I would like to say a few words on Passion. Of course the idea of passion is often correlated with sensuality, love, sexuality and affection. All of these ideas are often symbiotic with strong feelings and emotions that I believe most people want more of in their lives. Living passionately may include these aspect of passion, but in addition, it also includes how you interact with your work, your spiritual life, the way you participate with your children and much more. I believe that how fully you invest yourself into who you are and what you do, is what creates a passionate life. Passion also brings with it many important benefits such as greater health, more joy and a greater sense of purpose in life.
Living habitually is toxic to passion. Repetition of one’s life on a day-to-day basis without some method of re-creation, or renewal of clarity of vision creates an automaton like life of knee-jerk responses without the life affirming benefit of spontaneity and the gift of re-creation. Ask yourself right now, what are you passionate about in your life? Your partner? Your family? Your spiritual life or practice? Your work? Your music…art…social cause? Does it enliven you, inspire you, and make you feel like your life is worthwhile? If you are having difficulty in naming one or two things, it is critical that you take some time to re-evaluate how you are choosing to live your life.
Secondly, I would like to discuss the concept of Agape. While I had always in the past felt that this word had a strong religious, esp. Christian connotation, I also had always felt that it described something really significant, as if it was beyond the other descriptive words that tried to describe the indescribable…that sense of being so moved by being in the presence of something so molecular altering that one would have difficulty describing it in words afterwards. The experience somehow held a magical, heart busting open, crack-in-the-world kind of feeling that I felt that if only I were an artist or poet or musician, could I capture that moment with some degree of proper honor.
I found myself reveling in several of such moments recently. One occurred during a recent Yom Kippur Service (a holy Jewish holiday which serves, as Rabbi Ted Falcon described, as a day of At-one-ment) in which the congregation was divided by gender to allow the rare opportunity for all the men to just send love and gratitude to all the women of the congregation in a song. I will remember that moment forever as tears streamed down my eyes and the love I felt that was being given and received, flooded into every cell of my body. Hearing music for me is a vehicle that can occasionally paralyze me into a state of rapt jaw-dropping heart-breaking-open awe. Last month I took the opportunity to witness a performance by Richard Manetti and his son, world-renowned French Django guitarists whose fingers danced on guitars with speed and beauty and dexterity like nothing I had ever before seen. Even more recently, was a spectacular evening of music with performer, songwriter and passionate activist Holly Near and the a capella talents of Emma’s Revolution.
In any one of those awe-inspiring experiences, I could not tell what would appear in the next moment; tears, the widest of smiles my face could muster, or a heart so full that I did not know whether to sit in silence or stand burst out in the loudest of applause! It was just a pure state of being, being present in front of something that reminds me what a gift my life is and how blessed I am.
I think that it is by more frequently making choices for ourselves to create opportunities for the following of one’s heart and intuitive compass, that allows spirit to come in unforeseen ways. Sometimes these directions require courage, sometimes faith and sometimes the simple idea of asking yourself what brings you joy and then following it. Personally, I have chosen to consciously live my life in ways that allows for these windows to the abundance of life to be more likely to show up in my life. I ask you, won’t you join me?