“Gentle curiosity has a mysterious way of opening hearts;
alternatively, harsh judgment tends to close them. “
I describe myself as a person who loves to garden. And there’s lots of evidence from my past that supports that statement.
At the same time, curiously, when we moved to Austin, we elected to live in a condominium with only patio space for gardening.
Also curious is the fact that presently most of my plants are dying.
As Alice says, “Curiouser and curiouser.”
Years ago, when working as a hospital chaplain, I discovered the healing power of curiosity. It was amazing to witness how many doors for healing opened as I was gently curious about the hearts and lives of those I encountered: staff, family, and patients. Gentle curiosity has a mysterious way of opening hearts; alternatively, harsh judgment tends to close them.
As I developed those questioning skills, I began to turn them inward, at first randomly then eventually in more intentional ways as I saw patterns around which arenas of reflection seemed to be most fruitful. Integrity or, more simply said, consistency of person-hood, and the opposite of that, lack of integrity or inconsistency, being some particularly fruitful arenas. Remember Jesus’ gentle curiosity about the woman at the well? How he drew her out? to a place of greater honesty and integrity and, eventually, connection with the Holy?
Since Advent is a “gently penitential” season, this seems like a good time to focus my curiosity gently on this particular inconsistency. It is my way of making the path smooth and wide for the new work of God.
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.
5Every valley shall be filled
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough ways smooth;
So, as I pass my sliding glass doors these days, I am trying to be gently curious about my own behavior:
Is this simply the drought that is returning to our area? And an indication of how grievous that makes me feel and how burdensome it is to keep my plants watered?
Is this yet another previously unrecognized loss associated with my ongoing back pain?
Have I changed? Maybe I don’t like gardening now… I did once upon a time, but could it be that my interests have shifted faster than the story I tell about myself?
Or is it that I am not allowing myself time to enjoy the things I most enjoy?
Am I growing tired of the city, wanting to find a place where I can dig in the ground rather than a pot, but afraid to admit it?
Curiouser and curiouser indeed!
Are there inconsistencies in your life? or places of diminished integrity where what you say does not match what you do? Are you open to being gently curious about them this Advent season?