There was an interesting article in ‘The Age’ on the 14th September discussing the inclination of some people to ‘be curious’, whilst others are not. We can see this as kids develop. Some really want to know how things work, why things happen, what will be the implications of…etc. Others are not so curious. And so, it’s easy to see that the curious ones are more suited to learning – they need to find things out.
It has been suggested that curiosity is linked to happiness and that’s because curiosity creates an openness to unfamiliar experiences which, in turn opens doors to further discovery, and delight. And it is thought that curiosity is something that can be nurtured and developed. With practice, we can harness the power of curiosity to transform everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences.
When we lived in London, we had an Australian friend come to stay with us. He is one of the most curious people I know. Rather than looking at the normal sights of London, he walked the streets working out where the tube trains were located by observing the vent holes in the roads.
But people are curious about all sorts of things. Fortunately, we are not all curious about the same phenomenon, like the location of London’s tubes. But it seems that to be curious, we need a certain level of knowledge. As author, Fran Flam notes, ‘If you know nothing, you don’t know what to be curious about. But on the other hand, if you are one of those who think they know everything, then why be curious’? However, she goes on, ‘it not actual knowledge that’s the determinant but people’s perception of their knowledge that stifles or encourages curiosity’.
So, you won’t be surprised to read that I am thinking of this ‘curiosity’ in terms of our Christian faith. How many of us can admit to being curious as, for example, to why things are done the way they are in our liturgy, where our church is headed at this time of falling adherence, what are the stumbling blocks to unity with the Roman Catholic Church, how can we make sense of the split Christian opinion relating to the plebiscite vote, and so on and so on….. There is so much to be curious about with our faith, to keep learning and growing. And, you know, it requires humility to admit that we don’t, nor will we ever, know all that there is to know. It has been said of Rowan Williams, our former Archbishop of Canterbury, that his tastes and curiosities are as catholic as his theology. Now, there’s someone to follow!
But it is not just knowing about information and procedures, it is also the curiosity for us to come closer to God, to learn from those who have gone before us to show us ‘how to do this’. In Luke’s Gospel we read, ‘the Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, ‘look, here it is’ or ‘there it is’, because the Kingdom of God is within you’. [Lk 17:20-21] Our curiosity should also lead us to that place within.
Love and peace,