“Learning is by nature, curiosity” – according to Ancient Greek philosopher, PLATO
Contemporary human potential thought leader & author, Bryant McGill says “Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness.”
Albert Eistein – The important thing is never stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
Good morning Unity children of God. Thank you for being here. I am honored. Again, my name is Andrea Evans and I’ve been fortunate to live and learn as a Unity practitioner for some 30 years now. I’m grateful that it was curiosity that brought me to Unity.
That is one of many reasons, I believe the world and all its human inhabitants could use now – is additional curiosity about ideas and folks who seem odd /different than us. Instead of closing them out, what if we welcomed them in? Asking questions, genuinely desiring to know more about their ideas & origins? It’s difficult to dislike someone who shows a true interest in us.
I’m going to begin with reasons curiosity fascinates me, share ideas from spiritual way showers on the topic, offer two life examples then bring it on home.
I didn’t grow up with my parents. I was raised by grandparents and various aunts and uncles. I hated being away from my Mom. When we did get together, she was playful, fun, young and more liberal than my guardian aunts, uncles and grandparents.
I was 7 when I realized the rules, expectations and lifestyles in each household of my guardians were quite different one from other. Yet, they were ALL my family! I puzzled over that for a while then just accepted it. Different was “normal family” for me. Consequently, I expected everybody was a bit unusual. That variety was okay or average.
Looking back in retrospect, what I thought was worse about my childhood – not being with my Mom, I now see for its gifts – It turns out the feeling that caused me sadness as a child has given my life a zest that I’m glad I got –I treasure my sense of curiosity today. What’s more — I see it as the best example of God’s plan being SO much better than mine from the outset.
It reminds me of this Caroline Myss statement: “Just let go. Let go of how you think your life should be and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.”
In the quest for truth, curiosity is a valuable trait according to spiritual life mentor – Greg Richardson of Strategic Monk. Com. Richardson defines curiosity as “an innate, willing desire to know and understand more fully.” Curiosity is an innate enthusiasm for discovery and learning.
In children we call it “wonder – their power to explore and trust the unfamiliar to learn how to interact with the yet to be known. It is in that child wonder – their open hearts make the exploration joyful.”
This reminds me – Matthew 19-14 – Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.”
We are ALL children of God regardless of our years on this Earth. Yet for some, as we age we can get set in our ideas, ways, and expectations and totally convince ourselves we know the outcome of life events yet to unfold. That tendency can stop us in our tracks and limit possibilities.
Okay, let me walk that back a bit. It isn’t always age that entrenches us in our opinions and expectations. That all-knowing attitude can appear at any age or stage in life.
For instance, as a teenager and in my 20s, I was a “too cool to fool” – a proud card carrying pessimist. Had the world and my role all figured out. So it is NOT chronological aging but our individual perceptions that allow or limit our exploration of life and attain insight.
There are many ways to gain spiritual insight. The Strategic Monk, Richardson explains, some people accept the spiritual teaching learned as children and remain there for life.
Some analyze as much information as they can and take a rational approach.
Others want more of an emotional experience rather than analytical. They believe spiritual life is to comfort and help us and others feel better. I’m well suited to the spiritual curiosity mode of gaining spiritual insight.
Best-selling author on energy, healing and spirituality, Carolyn Myss, states, “Judgment is what disconnects us from our intuition (inner feelings) The mind cannot get us to the world of heaven. The mind cannot get us to the new era of understanding the nature of the Divine.”
Here is where curiosity can be KEY to unlock “boxed” thinking. Curiosity can challenge our habitual ways of thought in non-threatening – unassuming manner. It can begin with, “I wonder” “what if this or that?” Curiosity encourages us to let go of certainty and absolutes and be willing and open to new options and opportunities.
Now let me mention this caveat: Curiosity can be misused and become temptation or distraction. It is possible to be intensely curious about something you (instinctively sense) is wrong.
My advice use curiosity for your spirit’s advancement, for soul and/or self-knowledge. It’s easy to be curious about aspects of life that inspire, or bring joy. It is also possible to be curious about what causes us pain, discomfort and apparent suffering. I promise that practicing spiritual curiosity can and will provide surprises we’d rather not recognize or accept such as attributes we label (challenges, weakness or ego). They are all part of growing spiritually.
I think this life example demonstrates the surprise I didn’t want to see or believe within me;
Now remember the total pessimist I mentioned earlier? Well that was me my first semester at the University of DE – Intro to Political Science in this large lecture hall this dark skinned girl sat in front row alone. She laughed and chatted with the professor from the first day on. She had a winning smile, odd gestures and expressions. I couldn’t identify her accent. She wore other worldly colorful clothes and headdresses to class all the time. While most of us were in jeans and t-shirts.
Second third week of class the professor posted weekly test scores on his office door. I saw her there with great big smile. I asked why she smiled so much. She said she enjoyed life and she got a 98 on the test. I checked my grade – 84. I wasn’t smiling. That was the second test she’d gotten an A and I was low B.
We went our separate ways. Walking across campus, I realized I was racist -–like my grandfather. I had to admit I was jealous –confused- I was white and she black and she consistently got better grades than me in Poli Sci and that was my favorite class. I had African American friends -classmates since 5th grade. We got along fine. I never knew if they got better grades than me then. I never occurred to me.
She was so cheery and I didn’t want to be racist. That combination made me want to know more about who she was. I started sitting in the second row behind her in lectures. I asked questions and she started asking me questions! I learned about her life in Jamaica, college happiness even though she missed her family terribly. That was foreign to me too. I was glad to be away from family.
I do not recall her name now but she was the first college contemporary to show me there was plenty to be happy about in our college life days. She taught me to study for college classes. Sometimes during study break, she’d read a letter from home out loud –laugh, cry, sigh, stomp or stare beyond me or through me – and somehow along the way I realized, the value of family.
It was thanks to curiosity and our asking questions, that my joyous Jamaican friend demonstrated that the life in college and the promise beyond would and could be positive fun. Thanks to her there was a crack in my pessimistic attitude armor. My racism dwindled. My grin quotient and GPA climbed. My narrow minded world view expanded.
The next life lesson was fueled by curiosity and a romance gone wrong.
Two years out of college, I finished a summer job with an outdoor drama in St Augustine, FL. I wanted to stay but only found a part-time job as a reporter for small local newspaper. I had seen this bald, flamboyant woman late 30’s maybe 40 flitting about town. She was loud, friendly an open-book who wore dramatic flowing outfits, and period costumes even to downtown bars and diners. A real character – curiosity got me for sure
Sue Buie was a clothing designer, fabric artist recently divorced and commissioned to make historical clothes for re-enactors in St Augustine. Yes, she was an unabashed breathing billboard and if you asked about the outfit, you were in for a 5 -10-minute history lesson. Sue was interviewing for roommates to share five-bedroom Spanish manor two blocks from the newspaper building. Within a month I was there and we were looking for another roommate.
Life was good; well except I was crazy about this red-haired impressionist painter who worked downtown, only problem his feelings weren’t reciprocal. I pretended not to care, got moody and morose. Sue was happy go lucky as usual and her love life was absent, too. I noticed she was gone Sunday mornings when I get up. When she got home she was cheerful, confident maybe calmer/quieter than before. Something was up. I had to know.
Asking, I learned she was driving north to Jacksonville Unity Church. She said, her life was good and getting better every minute. I didn’t feel that way but I had to admit, she probably did. After weeks of me moping and probably drinking too much, she asked me to go to the Unity Church. I told her, I didn’t believe in a church “God.” Even hearing the word “God” made me mad. I told her God and I were on the outs. I’d stay out.
Sue asked what I thought God was? I said, God was supposed to be love. I hadn’t had that experience. The church God I knew was mean and angry and hadn’t shown much care for me or those I loved.
Sue said The Jacksonville Unity church was a different church– they didn’t yell and beat folks with the Bible. They didn’t believe people were sinners. They did believe prayer changes lives.
I asked how? Sue said come with her some Sunday. She suggested if the minister says the word “God” maybe I could substitute the word” love.” I groused around for a few more weeks. My Renoir didn’t show up with a portrait of me or profess his undying love. I was already mad. Why not go to Jacksonville Unity? I could try Sue’s suggestion.
Walking up to that Unity, it looked different than any Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian church I’d ever seen. I opened the door and the people were warm, friendly, and interesting. There was no yelling, pounding the pulpit or altar call for sinners to be saved. The minister said the word “God” six or seven times and Sue’s suggestion worked! I didn’t get angry. I cried on and off. Those sad happy tears needed to come out. The songs had rhythm, melody and meaning easy to understanding. I felt God’s love and gentle power. My heart was melting. This was the beginning of finding the love I really missed.
There are more times that curiosity got the better of me and showed ME a BETTER ME!
So I trust you can see why I believe what the world needs now is more curiosity.
We can practice spiritual curiosity by NOT allowing obstacles to stop us. Curiosity encourages creativity. Richardson, the Strategic Monk says practicing spiritual curiosity is more about asking questions than finding solutions. Asking questions draws us off the standard path and helps us see in new ways. Curiosity draws us to the next step away from what we expected.
I ask each of us to consider some area of life where you could be less serious and more curious.
Gary Simmons, recently retired senior minister of Unity Portland, Oregon relates: It is not your figuring it out that will usher you into the Kingdom of heaven. You have to trust the Spirit of the Living God that is revealing itself through you.
This – Unity – Children of God – returns us to Jesus saying, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.”
I wonder…. how is the Spirit of the Living God calling to reveal through you?
May each of us allow curiosity to naturally teach and grow us spiritually. It can and will return us to our original human species’ innocence.
We are well on our way. Stay curious in the UP, the down and the plateaus of life. Ask “I wonder” questions. Lean forward in curiosity and welcome the wonder.
MEDITATION Let’s take this into meditation:
Settle into your chair. Feet resting comfortably on the floor, arms and shoulders at ease.
Breath naturally. Sink deeper into that rhythm with in your body. Relax, breathe and feel the aliveness circulating within you.
Settle into the soft music and allow the curiosity of your spirit to gently surface.
Be still – listening waiting, welcoming the calling of spiritual curiosity. Is there an element of life you could look at with curiosity? Relax. Breathe. Divine Spirit, loving creator is with you- in you. As we enter the sacred silence.
2- 3 mins
RETURN: Become aware of your breathing once again. Give thanks to your sweet spirit for message, image or sign whatever sacred gift you received.
Feel the chair supporting you, allow your head to lean to one side and circle around chin to chest, to the side and back – other side. One more head circle.
When you are ready open your eyes and welcome back to this time and space.
Lean in with curious.