What can a septuagenarian say about passion? You are never too old to have passion, and I mean a ‘strong and barely controllable emotion’. The focus of such a passion may different of course for different people, whatever age they are. There are some limiting factors for older people, at least that I am aware of in my own case.
There is a temptation to leave the world’s concerns and crises to other, perhaps younger, people. There is also the weariness that comes from having struggled for so long with some of the injustices that are still so prevalent. And if I am honest, there is the wish to keep the life style that I have come to enjoy, which creates a conservatism and reluctance to risk change. So I have been wondering if I have any passion for anything?
If I consider how I spend my time as a way of gauging what I feel strongly about, then it is clear I love the Earth and its capacity to produce beautiful and nourishing life. Working on the allotment and in the garden is often hard work, even when harvesting. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I love it, and am grateful for the opportunity to be able to work the soil and enjoy the open air. This passion also extends to what we as human being are doing to the Earth, and wanting to help change our life styles to stop the destruction.
I also love learning. We are discovering more and more about our planet and its life, the solar system and the cosmos, about what makes us human and the effects we have on the environment we inhabit. I am constantly learning, informally by watching the television, e.g. The Planets; by accident (and even accidents!) and formally through my MA. Again I sometimes have to stop and think of the pleasure of learning, because it is often challenging or a chore! When I think of the privileges I have had through education it makes me want to do more to help everyone have those opportunities. Nationally and globally there is still too much inequality of opportunity for learning.
I love my wife and family and friends. Though I have to confess that I could do a lot more. Love never ends and is never complete. I came across a quote the other day after reading about the death of Toni Morrison. She wrote, “Love is never better than the Lover.” I have been loved and I am loved. How much more I need to love!
Of course the other meaning of passion is the suffering and death of Jesus. Like many Quakers I can’t go with the traditional doctrines of salvation and atonement. But for me Jesus was passionate about life, people, justice and even, as it is described these days, ‘wellness’. What bugs me at the moment is can Quakers be passionate through silence? I wonder if Quaker culture has stultified passion by insisting on a particular way of worshipping. However, whhen it comes to activism, then there is passion aplenty. There, the love of earth, truth, justice and community is flowing strongly. I find myself wishing for a bit more passion in worship. Does it have to be all internal and silent? Can’t we have some singing and dancing? Quakers used to be known for quaking, perhaps it’s time to be so again.