The dictionary defines curiosity as the eager desire to know. Then it defines holy as devout, sacred. In her book “Hunger for Hope” Sr. Simone Cambell refers to Holy Curiosity as an apt summary of contemplative prayer, or prayerful listening..
Curiosity took early sailors across the ocean to see what lay beyond the horizon. It motivated the lovers of nature to explore untraveled regions and plunge the oceans depths to discover new species. It led the scientist to behold through the microscope the intricacies of all life around them and through the telescope the fascinating complexities of the entire universe; eventually taking them into space exploration and travel and enriching our daily life by so many inventions and discoveries.
If we link this human endeavor with a holy, devout or sacred purpose where could it lead us? It could persuade us to converse with and prayerfully listen to others who hold different views, or beliefs. Prompted by such curiosity I went on line to a Zen Monastery website (Zen is the meditational practice of Buddhists) and found this prayerful instruction:
- ‘May all beings be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
- May all beings know happiness and the root of happiness.
- May all beings live in sympathetic joy, rejoicing in the happiness of others.
- May all beings live in equanimity, free from passion, aggression and delusion’.
My holy curiosity was well rewarded. It enabled me to see the spiritual interconnectedness with Christian virtues and provided me with a better understanding of a faith practice different to (but in harmony with) mine.
Holy curiosity would assist us both in combatting and in avoiding being deluded by “false information”, of which there is so much in both visual and printed media. The blatant lie that was broadcast to the American public is a recent, glaring example of such misinformation and its tragic results. A simpler example would be to enquire of many advertisements promising all manner of cures or remedies, is it true? Will it deliver the life, or the successful outcome it promises? To bring it even closer, our suspicions and delusions may be shattered if in holy curiosity we looked at, or greeted, or if language permits, started a conversation with our African neighbour, or servant, or gardener?
Holy curiosity can open the door to new ministries, ranging from homeless children to human trafficking, from drug addicts to disenfranchised, from refugees to legal protection against unjust treatment, from the exposure of social evils to new legislation. It has led many to new experiences, new insights, new discoveries, new surprises and new wonders in the ordinary. In one of her research experiments my daughter was astonished when, dissecting the heart of a mouse, and looking through the microscope, she saw that every individual cell in the heart was beating in unison when she opened it.
Holy curiosity has taken me into a library and bookstore (often at an expense I could ill afford) to read all I could lay my hands on that would lead me into a deeper experience of God and instruct me on all the disciplines that are required if I accept the invitation of Jesus, “Follow me”.
I am sharing this with the assurance holy curiosity is something you could do, and with the prayer that you will. I began by saying this is another name for contemplation, or prayerful thinking. Our Presiding Bishop has called upon us to “re-imagine the mission of the church”, an enormous task in these Covid times. We don’t know, we can’t imagine what may happen if every church member, every committee, every group activity, every leader responded to that request with holy curiosity. Covid-19 may separate us, but it cannot stop the energy of divine activity to which our curiosity may tune into.
John tells us of Greeks who in holy curiosity came saying to Philip, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (12:21).The Eastern magi’s holy curiosity was aroused by an unusual star and their journey led them finally to Jesus to offer him their gifts and kneel in worship. Your holy curiosity, in itself is not enough, but by responding to God’s Spirit prompting you into action, the result could be the same.