curious cat

The Gift of Curiosity

The Cat Is Just Fine

by Karen Richter

Were you taught that curiosity is something to be squashed or tamed? that curiosity is somehow unseemly or rude? that instead it’s important to pretend that you know about things? Have we always valued expertise over curiosity?

I’ve decided to embrace curiosity and to encourage others to let their curiosity run wild.  It’s good for you…

Curiosity = openness.

I read a book recently about the questions that Jesus asked. He’s a little like your high school English teacher who always responded to a question with another question. Our scriptures are full of questions. Here’s a favorite of mine from the Psalms:

When I look at your skies,
at what your fingers made –

   the moon and the stars
   that you set firmly in place –
            what are human beings
            that you think about them;
            what are human beings
            that you pay attention to them?

It’s difficult to be spiritual if you’re not curious. This is a way (one way among many!) that our faith encourages us to be counter-cultural. In our accomplishment achievement go-get-it information economy, it’s good thing to have answers, knowledge, certainty. Our way of openness, humility, and curiosity seems a little strange, even a bit naïve or childlike.

Curiosity engenders humility.

When we know that there are things that we want to learn, we can be humble about the limits of our own knowledge. Jesus calls us to learn:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11

Curiosity reminds us to listen.

I find that a healthy curiosity about the spiritual path and experiences of others brings me to a listening posture.  This is the power of Humans of New York, listening projects, Story Corps, and human libraries. We all want to know what we have in common with others and in what ways our paths are unique.

Listening is hard work; curiosity can help.

Curiosity opens pathways to maturity.

What do you do with questions that can’t be answered with Google? I remember talking with a woman in a Bible study with me at our traditional United Methodist church in the Deep South… she was maybe 75 years old and described herself as a seeker. Learning, growing, changing in all of life’s seasons – what a gift!

What are you curious about today? What are you hungry for? Where are you stretching?

In our common life together in the Southwest Conference, where is our shared curiosity? Where are we striving to learn and grow? What are we hungry to become?