How Is Curiosity A Part of Your Spiritual Life
I’ve always loved this Ask, Seek, Knock passage from Jesus, which of course fits nicely into the acronym, ASK (AskSeekKnock, get it?)
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." *
Growing up in the Prosperity Gospel, I always thought it was about asking God for STUFF. But today it reminded me—believe it or not—of the following words from Brene Brown:
“We all grew up and experienced to varying degrees, trauma, disappointment, hard stuff, we armored up, and at some point, that armor no longer serves us… [and] the weight of the armor is too heavy, and it's not protecting you, it's keeping you from being seen and known by others. And so, this is the developmental milestone of midlife. From late 30s to probably your 60s, this is the question. This is when the universe comes down, and puts her hands on your shoulders, and pulls you close, and whispers in your ear “I’m not f------g around, you’re halfway to dead. The armor is keeping you from growing into the gifts I’ve given you. That is not without penalty. Time is up.” This is what you see happen to people in midlife. And its not a crisis, it’s a slow, brutal unraveling. And this is where everything that we thought protected us, [actually] keeps us from being the partners, the parents, the professionals, the people that we want to be. This is a fork in the road. I’ve only seen two responses to the universe:
[First] If you say “I’m not gonna do it” [then] you walk through the world doubled down on your own shit, in denial, cheeks squeezed as [you] walk, and cause so much pain in the world…[because] it is so much easier to offload pain than to feel pain. So you really have a choice in midlife. I’m not saying pull off all the armor and streak through Austin, because I think you can replace the armor with something. I think it’s curiosity. [This is the second option] You just become very curious about yourself, about the world. Why did I react that way? What is my obsession about this? You just become very curious. Because it keeps us learning, it keeps us asking questions, and it increases our self-awareness. Curiosity is really the superpower for the second half of our lives.”
Does that match your life experience? It sure does for me.
I can’t help but reflect that when psychologists write about what many Christian contemplatives call reconstruction or reorder, it is often referred to as a second naivete, or a willingness to live in the “As if” or the “yes and.” I can’t help but think it’s a return to curiosity.
And I am reminded that this second curiosity is really an indispensable part of contemplation.
Origen says this curiosity is a gift, and that “This longing, this love, has been implanted in us by God…Much more, and beyond all comparison does the mind burn with unspeakable longing to learn” This isn’t rationalism. It is a resurrection of child-like curiosity.
It’s a reminder that contemplation is deep listening not deep ignoring.
How might we make curiosity a part of our spiritual practice?
I’m reminded of words of Walt Whitman recently popularized by Ted Lasso: “Be curious, not judgmental.”
What if we lived this way, curious about ourselves and those around us? How can you live this today?
And finally, I wonder, what would it be like if we saw God this way?
In Origen’s Christianity, you might say this it was because of Curiosity that created the universe, and still drives the Universe to its evolution, through the LOGOS, the Christ. And instead of living in a flat fixed state in which God knows and controls and judges all, somehow this all-wise God just can’t wait to see how Humanity grows into the image of Divine Curiosity.
How does it shape your big picture to think of God as curious instead of judgmental?
The Rev Dr. Michael Petrow works for the Center for Action and Contemplation and you can find him hanging out on Facebook at Origenal Christianity: the Alternative, Mystical, & Contemplative tradition