Harvesting Passion

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and Frog…

The pagan party called Halloween originally celebrated the end of summer’s harvest and winter’s arrival. Halloween has roots in Samhain, a Celtic festival lasting three days in territory now called Ireland, Scotland and U.K. Samhain was famous for pranks and tricks which were blamed on fairies and spirits, as people believed that ghosts of the dead returned to earth at this liminal time of year. Sacrifices (presumably of animals) were tossed into bonfires. Offerings of food were made as further protective gestures, along with folks parading in costumes to ward off harm from wayward spirits. When Rome claimed these Celtic lands in 43 A.D., the festivities continued but were reborn with Christian themes. Later Pope Boniface IV renamed the event All Saints’ Day or All-hallows with an intent to honor martyrs who exhibited passion for good causes.

We have plenty of everyday people to honor in these pandemic times. A 28-year-old physician in Texas died of COVID-19. She was an obstetrician and gynecologist but did a rotation in ER to help with COVID patients prior to vaccines being available for her protection. Her father told about her passion for medicine and urged others, “Be an Adeline. Have passion for your life.”

My Mom did not lose her life “early.” She celebrated her 99th birthday in August. She certainly lived a life of passion. Any activity may engender the pollination of passion, but some are perennial topics. Mom’s passions are world peace, racial justice and quality education for every child (to name a few). She feels immense frustration that she will not live to see significant results, but she planted seeds for others to harvest change. Today I interviewed a hospice service to augment Mom’s 24-7 care in her group home. It is difficult to sum up Mom in her prime. Here is one attempt: Be a Lois. Harvest passion for good causes!

When you are harvesting passion you are engaged with life! Passion takes positive actions. From research we find that positive actions are protective from stress — your immune system grows stronger and you become more resilient. Your outlook brightens. You see more possibilities. And what happens when you are inactive?

Consider the fable of the frog tossed into a hot pot of boiling water. The frog is frantic and makes an effort to leap out. However, if a frog goes into a cool pot with the heat turned on low, it will be lulled into inaction. As water gradually heats, the frog may float into a stupor until eventually succumbing to a cooked state when the water boils. Never mind that science has debunked this tale.

The metaphor does teach us something; people need to act “in time” to resolve potentially catastrophic situations.  

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

26. What are you passionate about in your life?

27. Where might you join with others to harvest passion for some cause?  

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

1 comment

  1. With so many worthy causes I must seriously find one (or two?) to contribute more than Money. Thanks Jan for nudging me to activity.


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