So.... I thought I knew what passion was... and I thought I had a fair amount of it... until I met Deborah Henson Conant this past week. There are many words I would use to describe her: energetic with enthusiasm, expressive and articulate and inquisitive about everything. She was instantly interested in and friendly to everyone she met. But the word that would top her chart would be passionate. She was passionate to express herself on the harp. She was passionate to change the world's opinion of what a harp can do. She was passionate to expand her boundaries and learn more. She had enough passion to think bigger this year than last year. Think more. Do more. Be more. Have more. Passion.
Deborah Henson Conant is a world class jazz harpist. She was contracted to give a concert in my hometown with the Community Concert Association. John and I are on the Board of the local Association and we were flabbergasted to see her name on the roster as a Community Concert Artist. We had been following her schedule for several years, hoping she would at least perform in the Midwest so we could drive to see her. I remember so clearly putting up a bit of a fuss to have the Board vote to bring her here. Our persuasion skills won and Deborah was scheduled.
It was by mistake that Deborah ended up actually living in our house all 3 nights she was here. Phone conversations flew between her agent and me. I misunderstood what 'staying with someone local' meant. The agent meant a B & B-style establishment and I thought she meant IN MY HOUSE. I eventually offered to feed, board, drive and take care of Deborah's every need and the agent accepted. Done deal. I knew this was surely going to be an experience.
Upon arrival at our house, Deborah quickly offered to give me a private harp lesson which actually is a very huge privilege; a life changing event. Last year I had learned one of her signature pieces "The Nightingale." It's a beautiful melodic slow-tempo harp solo that encourages the listener to relax and reflect. It's just a darn pretty song. It's simple but not quite simple enough as I stumbled through it.
[caption id="attachment_268" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="World famous jazz harpist patiently suggesting some changes to student..."][/caption]
As I played it for Deborah, who was limitless in her patience, she encouraged and suggested and positively enchanted John and me. What followed was a spontaneous whirlwind of harp, piano and singing at the top of her voice. Her passion doused us like a tidal wave.
Needless to say, Deborah's Community Concert was a raving success.
As I drove Deborah back to the airport, she asked me what I would do if I could do anything... Dream big... I was slow with an answer. What is my passion? If I had great talent, would I travel and play the harp? Never... Would I like to be famous? Nope, definitely not... I looked at her with a slack-jaw expression and had no answer, but have been thinking about that question ever since. What is my passion?
I think my answer would revolve around experiencing and hearing my Heavenly Father. I think I am passionate about exposing people to Him - be it through songs, prayers, conversations or a simple sweet sound from my harp. I am passionate about being the hyphen between a person's heart and God's heart. There is no need to be famous or travel about. There are so many of these heart connections that can be made right here... and need to be made right now...
[caption id="attachment_271" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The amazing woman in the red gloves is Deborah...."][/caption]