“Never lose a holy curiosity,” Einstein said. It does not strike me at all odd that those two words can be used together. We humans so easily march on our well-trod paths, until deep and permanent grooves are formed. But curiosity is essential to spiritual formation—it keeps us open, expectant, waiting to see something new, something beyond our previous conceptions. And often this takes us to a holy encounter, a moment where we are deeply conscious both of being alive and being in the presence of something inexplicable. Motivated by a holy curiosity, Moses turned away from his known pathways and toward a burning bush. Surely Abraham thought, “What will this new land be like?” as he left everything known to move into new territory.
When you move to a new city, everything is exciting, and you spend the first few weeks and months exploring new pathways, parks—the nooks and crannies of a city. After you have been there for awhile, however, you settle into your routine; it becomes easier to bike the same ways, drive the same roads, and walk in the same direction. But occasionally, hurrying through to some important task or job, you become conscious of a new path. As you pass it and become aware of it, it registers as a flash of a question— but more often than not, you will continue on your way, after glancing at your watch. Still, sometimes you might stop, feeling a certain pull, a “holy curiosity” that intrigues and beckons.
One day, you might stop, hesitate, consult your watch, and decide to venture down it to see where it goes. Sometimes it will lead to nothing special…an old alleyway of ugly buildings and trash cans. Other times it will lead to something new and fresh and surprisingly beautiful—you see things momentarily with different eyes, and your spirit revels in this new thing you have discovered. It can feel like a personal gift that no one else knows anything about.
You return to your well-trod path but not as the same person—you’ve been reminded that life consists of more than familiar comforts, known paths, easy answers and set paradigms. A holy curiosity is ever-ready response to the invitation to stop, see, and wonder.