By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
We have all heard the expression, curiosity killed the cat. It is generally used as a warning that being curious can get us into trouble and that sometimes questions, especially prying ones, are best not asked and that if the questioners persist, the outcomes will be less than pleasant.
It is my experience of late that we live in an age of questions. How do we remain safe in a time of COVID and yet find and maintain those connections that are so important to us? How and when will we return to those practices in the Church that we have missed so much during this time of pandemic? What will the long-term effect of the pandemic be on our society, on our families and on our parishes? Questions, lots of them.
I would suggest, however, that as disciples of Jesus, we are all about the questions. While as humans we like to have our questions answered, preferring always to see the outline of the path upon which we are walking, it is often through the questions that new perspectives and understandings appear and evolve. If we are wise and can tolerate the process, that is the discomfort of not always knowing, questions can unlock doors for us that previously remained out of our reach. If we allow questions to lead us to more questions, resisting the temptation to rush to answers, we may find ourselves learning and growing in ways quite unanticipated. As children, most of us were quite comfortable with questions, as so much of the world and our circumstances were as yet unknown to us. However, as we matured it was the answers that grew in importance and understandably so in an adult world and yet, do we ever outgrow the need to engage in critical, thoughtful practices? We are currently citizens in a world and disciples in a Church that has had many of its practices up-ended over the course of these many months of pandemic. While the truths of the Gospel and the guiding principles of God’s kingdom remain constant, in many corners, previous answers and previous solutions are no longer relevant and so, curiosity becomes our friend.
As the cat was cautioned, curiosity, that is, embracing the questions and allowing questions to lead us to more questions and opportunities for expanded perspectives, is not for the faint hearted. There is, without doubt, a certain risk involved, but that has always been the case with learning and growing. As we learn something new, will it not ask us to make a choice, perhaps a different one than we have made in the past. This should not surprise us. During Jesus ministry among us so much of his time was dedicated to urging those around him to move out of their comfortable certainties, into something new and as yet unknown? Even now, as we pray for God’s direction in uncertain times and circumstances, implicit in our prayers is a willingness to be taken somewhere as yet undiscovered, perhaps even unimagined. In our questions and in our prayers born out of these questions, we surrender ourselves to what is still developing and yet to come, not because we feel confidence in our own capacities, but because we trust the One who has led us to this point, even if for a time our path continues to be a fit foggy.
An important gift that we can give one another in all of this, in the questions and in our musings, is the space to allow for this process to unfold. As we create safe space to wonder with one another, God’s Spirit is able to move and breath among, around and through us. If we can cultivate and encourage curiosity around all that God is seeking to do in our lives, and in the communities in which we live and serve, with time and patience our wonderings upheld by God’s Spirit will lead us into all that is next. In these times of challenge, are we calling on God’s grace to hold this space, to encourage curiosity and to find comfort in the questions and in the processes that lead to wondering?
At Education for Ministry, participants’ questions are key and each week all are invited into a safe space where people are encouraged to ask, examine, discuss and ponder, without criticism or judgment. The goal of our time together is to create and maintain a space to be free to wonder aloud with others.
Want to learn more about Education for Ministry in the Diocese of Huron, please be in touch with Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon at email@example.com, to hear some of the details and the possibilities.
Rev. Dr. Canon Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.