This is a photo of our passiflora loefgrenii, also know as the garlic passion fruit, which is known for its otherworldly beauty, lusciously hued petals and fruit with a translucent pulp that is proven to ward off vampires with hints of garlic midst the sweetness. Geeky gardeners like us are quite smitten with this rare perennial vine from Brazil. What are you passionate about? Faced with insurmountable mountains of work that never reach completion, intractable geopolitical crises seemingly beyond our ability to impact, and the exhausting challenges of mere day to day survival, it's easy for our passion to wilt. Yet without that spark, responsibilities become burdens and generosity degrades into resentment. So how do we reclaim our passion?
I recommend a blast from the past. Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (or just Rumi to those of us who feel like old friends through his unsurpassed Sufi poetry) injected an unstoppable torrent of vivacity into ordinary script. His urgent plea was for everyone to connect with the divine essence beyond words. Yet even that is a limp description of his charismatic fervor. He urged us to forsake everything that does not drip, saturate and overflow with the Beloved juice that makes the universe run.
What's required to do so? Merely a single-minded dedication to pursue it wholeheartedly, and in the process discover that the heart...and everything else...becomes whole. That dedication says an emphatic "no" to extraneous wastes of energy (fool's gold) and "yes" to all that vibrates with the fierceness of being alive (pure gold). It's not about forsaking responsibilities but rediscovering them from a gut-emanating, all-embracing compassion. It is consciously living from our most root Essence until we are once again swept up in the passion of existence itself.
Whether you find that passion in your partner's smile, busting a dance move, singing off-key with every fiber of your being in the car, or exuberantly cultivating a passion flower, the invitation is always toward more life, more expression, more of the real stuff that makes everything else worthwhile. As Rumi said in a poem translated by the nearly-always-spontaneously-combusting Andrew Harvey:
Passion burns down every branch of exhaustion.
Passion is the supreme alchemical elixir, and renews all things.
No-one can grow exhausted when passion is born,
so don’t sigh heavily, your brows bleak with boredom and cynicism and despair—
look for passion! passion! passion! passion!
Futile solutions deceive the force of passion.
They are banded to extort money through lies.
Marshy and stagnant water is no cure for thirst.
No matter how limpid and delicious it might look,
it will only stop and prevent you from looking for fresh rivers
that could feed and make flourish a hundred gardens,
just as each piece of false gold prevents you
from recognizing real gold and where to find it.
False gold will only cut your feet and bind your wings,
saying “I will remove your difficulties”
when in fact it is only dregs and defeat in the robes of victory.
So run, my friends, run fast and furious from all false solutions.
Let divine passion triumph, and rebirth you in yourself.
P.S. Happy Birthday Rumi! Last week was your 806 birthday, and you never looked so good!