“Who’s Jesus,” she said.
Interesting question, I thought. And difficult at the time for me to answer as neither myself nor my wife Deborah attended a church in those days.
So, to answer her question we turned to a church that a friend had recommended to my wife and embarked on a journey that has taken up the rest of our lives thus far.
What sticks in my mind about that moment is the path we took as a family in order to answer the question. There were so many options. We could simply have ignored her request and sent her back outside to play. We could have answered to the best of our ability. But instead, we chose to see it as an opportunity to take action.
In doing so, her question really became our question – and our quest. We internalized what she asked us, and it drove us to act.
On my daughter’s part, asking the question was simply a matter of nature. It’s what children do. And especially what children do at that age before all of life’s filters come into play. They don’t need courage to ask the question, they simply ask and wait to see what the world gives back to them.
But as we age, it becomes increasingly difficult to not only ask the question, but to find the answers.
We adults don’t like asking questions because it implies ignorance. We fear being vulnerable before others. And so we are left spinning, asking the same questions of ourselves over and over again, until finally we either forget what we were asking or make a concerted effort to find the answer.
It’s in the seeking of the answer that we begin to make progress. We embark on a path to find someone who can help us. Maybe it’s a friend who has been there before. Maybe it’s a counsellor, or a spiritual guide. Now we are the child again, opening ourselves up to the possibility that there is an answer.
And so our true spiritual growth begins.
And as we open ourselves to the safety of asking the question, we see that the answers lie within – even for the big questions like: what is life all about?
We start to understand that what gives meaning to our lives is when we take action that address our own questions. For me that looked like: what do I want this world to mean to me? Eventually the answer emerged that my life is about awakening the world to its spiritual magnificence. And as long as I remember that, and actively pursue that path in a conscious manner, I know I will find the answers that are right for me.
For someone else, it could be financial security – and as long as there is a healthy income, that puts food on the table and enough to spare to create a good life for my loved ones, then life works.
Our questions reveal who we are and what we want. They act as our guide. Be like a child – ask the question. As poet E.E. Cummings wrote: “once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”