Cats have been found in unusual places. They have traveled across country in some crevice of an eighteen wheeler. Felines have been heard disputing the drywall patch that covered their entry into a wall. And homeowners have been known to return home from holiday merriment to find their cat in the middle of an expedition to the top of the Christmas tree. An old adage tells us that these outlandish behaviors are driven by nothing less than curiosity.
But aside from the motley of cat clichés, in the realm of spirituality curiosity is not a negative thing. Curiosity is the companion that keeps our hearts from being focused on absolutes. It is a playful thing that sets our minds upon the path of what could be. Like a child exploring new places, new people, new skills, we approach life with wonderful anticipation of what is around the corner.
Eric Litwin created a suave character of curiosity in his book Pete the Cat; I Love My White Shoes. Pete’s adventure is a simple trudge through blue berries, strawberries, mud and water; all while wearing white shoes! As the color and sogginess of his shoes change, Pete observes and ends each “misstep” with a song about “walkin’ along, sing’in my song”. Pete creatively intersects each color opportunity with curiosity of what could be. This approach to life stands in contrast to the expectations and confines of what should be.
Curiosity is a very helpful attitude when we find difficulty in the words of Jesus. Often poorly preached, Matthew 7:7-8 gives us confusing advice: Ask and it shall be given unto you…for everyone who asks shall receive”. Upon initial reading Jesus makes God sound like Santa. Give Santa your list and he’ll go to work upon your behalf. But the deeper meaning comes when we adopt curiosity as our guide. Jesus invites us to ask, so a survey of needs and wants we take. And we are also invited to present those needs and wants to God. But curiosity invites us to sit with that list and be curious. What does that list say about us? What does the list say about what we think of God? Curiosity invites observation, not judgment. As we analyze, our list may change. True desires of our hearts bubble to the top, fleeting wishes melt away. In that evolution growth takes place. And that is a gift to be received.
Another gift comes when we wait upon God to respond to our list. As things come about in life, good and bad, we begin to wonder if this is the path God will take to answer our prayer. Other times, we observe our situation and ask ourselves what can be learned. Curiosity welcomes questions and creativity about what could be. This stands in contrast of the confines of what should be. In the process, we learn more about ourselves and how God interacts with us. Those who ask do receive. The gift lies before us every day, if we are curious enough about what could be.
Here’s to all the curious prophets out there!