At some point between the age of 4 and 14, we seem to lose a fair amount of our curiosity. If you want proof—just spend a few minutes in conversation with a preschooler. Some estimate that the average child asks somewhere between 100 to as many as 350 questions every day. That means during a 12-hour period, a parent might field a question every 2 minutes and 36 seconds.
Among the toughest inquiries parents said they faced—Why is water wet? Where does the sky end? How does a fish breathe under water?
I have no idea how I’d begin to answer any of those questions. But I know I’ve washed my hands a number of times today and not once considered what it is that makes water wet. I spent an afternoon at an aquarium last week and it didn’t even cross my mind to consider how it was all these fish live and breathe under water. There’s something about a child’s inquisitive nature that makes me long for a more curious existence.
As we enter into adulthood, we somehow begin to place more value on claiming certainty and memorizing facts rather than delighting in the joy of discovery. In elementary school we learned the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Why & Where. This, we were told, is how you begin to uncover new realities.
But somewhere along the line the inquiries dry up and we’re content to know what we know. Life becomes more about knowing the right answer and less about asking a good question.
The realm of faith is no different, I suppose. We may know a Creed by heart, but how many of us have discussed what it really means to believe in “the communion of saints”? Or wondered aloud what “life everlasting” actually looks like? I wonder… why did God choose 10 Commandments and not 8 or 12 or just 2?
As it turns out, Jesus asks more than 130 questions in the gospels. I’d like to think it’s because even God can be curious. Even the One who created the heavens and the earth can wonder about the state of our hearts.
In fact, it’s Jesus who said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search and you will find.” We’re encouraged to have a faith that pursues discovery and inquisitive wondering. We’re urged to ask questions and wonder together about this God of ours.
So channel your inner, curious 5-year-old. Ask away. As the early Christian theologian St. Anselm once said, “My faith seeks understanding, and understanding brings joy.”