Passion is universal.  You can feel passion flow through you as a thrill or a breath, and passion is what can reward you beyond your wildest dreams.   It is a lump in the throat, a tingle at the top of your head, a chill, a shudder.  Passion is intense.  It is the drive to a hidden self-discipline that can take us outside of anything we have ever known or felt.  My passion is unique from yours.  My definition of passion is completely different from yours.  Some people are born with a passion and follow it through their entire lives.  Others search for a passion.  And still others, they sometimes never find their passion in life.
“I can imagine that I am not alone when I say I have spent the majority of my life being angry with God.  The time that I did not spend being angry I spent being totally confused, and when I wasn’t confused I was afraid.  Growing up in the church as I did, I came to know God as an amorphous, external entity.  He was big.  He was fierce, He was waiting for me to mess up so He could swoop down and get me.  Getting me had to do with making me suffer and taking away things that I loved and wanted, like my son.  Getting me had to do with never approving of me or accepting me because of all the bad, inappropriate, or purely human things that I was prone to do.  Somewhere in my life, I grew to understand that God was not happy with me.  That was just fine, because I wasn’t too thrilled about Him either.”
Passion comes from within.  We lose scope and put all our attention on our passions. Some have a passion for nature, science, animals, people, music, dance, art, reading, food, etc…  Others have a passion for gossip, broken relationships, drugs, alcohol, sadness, anger, crime, pain.  Passion can be drawn from religion or drawn from history of other events…being just like them.  People read about their passions and others write about it.  And it is hard to find a passion or trust my own likes and dislikes when I was so afraid of a looming God…. and so confused about what my role in the world was.
I was not a passionate kid, I was not born with any type of talent or interest that took over my life at a young age.  I am one of the ones that has looked my entire life for a passion and even more diligently…a reason.  Why in the world was I brought to this world?  To experience pain?  To provide predators and vultures with a victim?  To be the one that people could laugh at, point fingers at, roll their eyes at?
No.  That is not my purpose or my passion.
A survivor of suicide or anyone in the midst of a long complicated grief will tell you that their life has changed forever. While we all try to make sense of something that is senseless, we turn inward for protection and for strength.  Some of us cut ourselves off from the world for a while, others pound the pavement with a force wanting to stop suicide or wanting to get through the grief quickly.  In this time we lose our passion and find that it is pretty damn hard to be passionate about anything beyond our grief.  As I have walked this journey in the past year my passion has taken on completely different meaning.  I thought I knew what it was and when I turned 40 five years ago, I thought I had things figured out.  I got a little cocky and probably lost scope and focus on the other important things in my life.
While I still am angry, at a God that I finally found to trust later in life, I think there is hope that I can figure out my faith both logically and within my heart.  I have talked with a pastor on several occasions, mostly through email, but the correspondence has stopped for now….I fear that I was exhausting him!  I still have so many questions because while I worry about trusting, I want to find comfort also.
My passions right now include connecting, helping, and living.  Maybe these things are my purpose here on earth also?  I sat on my porch this morning and had coffee, like I do almost every morning, but today I thought about each little thing that drives me within my passions…all wrapped up in pretty little packages.  Each passion is extremely beautiful.  Connecting includes people, the earth, time, music, children, writing, art, and culture.  Each one being a source of something larger within me.  Each one bringing peace and a bridge to “helping” and “living”.  Exercising my passions also means giving up control and facing fear.  I make myself do this everyday and I am amazed at the results.
I get a little stronger each day, each week, each month.  I am leaps and bounds beyond where I was April 6th, 2010, the day I found my son….and he was gone from us.  I am new in many ways, but so broken in others.  I feel my passions transform and reveal who I am, not only to those around me but to me as well.  I feel valuable, I feel safe, and I trust that I can take care of myself.  I do not plague my days with guilt anymore and I do not walk the house blaming myself and blaming others for my son’s death.  I open up, a little at a time.  Allowing my passions to let me be myself.  My relationship with myself is the first and foremost.  Without a good passionate relationship and understanding of who I am, I cannot provide the value to others.  I am capable of doing many things in this world, some extremely difficult things.  With that same knowledge, passion and skill set, I can survive this grief.
So, within my pretty packages of passion I also tuck away an “energy”.  This is a little ball of something, anything…..  I put it in there as a gift to others to draw from.  It is a love for the world, a love for family, a light in a tunnel, a seed of hope, a hit of bliss.  Whatever you need.  Today I will put together another package of passion.  I will send it to a father that has lost his son, his best friend.  I will pour all the energy I have into this package and find myself drained for several hours or maybe days afterwards.    I will breathe a little deeper when I am done, adding one more story to my depth of learning.  I will send a squeeze of his hand within the envelope and I will imagine that his pain will be lightened by knowing that he is not alone on his path.
This is my passion right now.  This project.  I may not be good at it, I might operate off-key.  But, I will no longer skate on the surface through my life.  I will allow passion and depth into my everyday.  And with that I will have a better relationship with myself.  And then I will work on my spiritual connections….but not right now.

One day my soul just opened up
and things started happenin’
things I can’t quite explain
I mean
I cried and cried like never before
I cried tears of ten thousand mothers
I couldn’t even feel anything because
I cried ’til I was numb.
One day my soul just opened up
I felt this overwhelming pride
what I was proud of
only God knows!
Like the pride of a hundred thousand
basking in the glory of their newborn
I was grinnin’ from ear to ear!
One day my soul just opened up
I started laughing
and I laughed for what seemed like
wasn’t nothin’ particularly funny goin’ on but I laughed anyhow
I laughed the joy of a million children
in the mud
I laughed ’til my sides ached
Oh God! It felt so good!
One day, my soul just opened up
There were revelations, annihilations,
and resolutions
feelings of doubt and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness
memories of things I’d seen and done
of places I’d been, although I didn’t know when
there were lives I’d lived
people I’d loved
battles I’d fought
victories I’d won
and wars I’d lost.
One day, my soul just opened up
and out poured all things
I’d been hiding
and denying
and living through
that had just happened moments before.
One day, my soul just opened up
and I decided
I was good and ready!
I was good and ready
to surrender
my life
to God.
So, with my soul wide open,
I sat down
wrote Her a note
and told her so.  (*Gemmia L Vanzant)
Excerpt from One Day My Soul Just Opened Up.  Phase One, Honor the Divine