At age 94, my mother has boundless curiosity. Boundless.
“Just out of curiosity, who invented the calendar?”
“When were the two last stars added to the flag? What were those states?
“Where does the gasoline come from for all these cars?”
When she first moved closer to us, my husband and I were eager to help. We Googled nearly everything for immediate facts. Because she often repeated questions, we printed pages and pages of answers.
“Pope Gregory XIII was Pope from 13 May 1572 to his death in 1585. He is best known for commissioning and being the namesake for the Gregorian calendar, which remains the internationally accepted civil calendar to this day.” (Wikipedia)
“1959 - Flag with 49 stars Alaska (January 3, 1959). 1960 - Flag with 50 stars Hawaii (August 21, 1959), (www.ushistory.org)
“Hundreds of millions of years ago, prehistoric plant and animal remains settled into the seas along with sand, silt and rocks. … Geologists make a map of the rocks where they think oil and gas might be found. …World oil production comes from more than 800,000 oil wells.” (www.energy4me.org)
Mom took the pages home to her apartment. I would find them tucked inside books or between magazines. Her diminished memory rendered her incapable of retaining the answers, but her questions resurfaced like rotating index cards. We had responses down pat:
“A Pope a long time ago.”
“1959 and 1960. Alaska and Hawaii.”
“Oil from the ground is refined into gasoline.”
One day it occurred to me that while my elderly mother remained curious about the world around her, I rarely asked “why” or “how” any more. There is more to know every nanosecond, but I allowed myself to bounce along on the surface of the flow of invention, research and social change.
I do study the Word of God. Perhaps I should rest on the righteous justification of being more curious about God’s Word than anything else. After all, Job 28: 28 says the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and shunning evil brings understanding. Why should I be curious about worldly information?
To answer my question, I went to the same source I use to satisfy Mom’s curiosity. I Googled “wisdom.”
Psychologytoday.com offered that wisdom is easier to recognize than to define, adding, “Psychologists pretty much agree it involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs. There's an awareness of how things play out over time, and it confers a sense of balance.”
Balance. With that concept in mind, I re-read the wisdom-enlightening chapters of Proverbs. In particular, Proverbs 2: 12–15 stood out:
“12Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight path to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” (NIV)
These verses revealed why I should be curious about the world around me. If I blindly go along with the newest trend or the most convenient resource, without understanding or questioning, I am not using the brain and heart that God gave me. Studying God’s Word helps me discern right from wrong, but if I never ask “why” or “how,” I may miss what needs discerned in the first place. The devil could have me walking right into a trap, or letting it stay open for others.
As I contemplated this, my mother’s wisdom became obvious. Her questions are prompted by love and concern and by long-standing values. She cares about the welfare of others and wants to be assured that resources will abound into the future. She maintains hope springing from a strong foundation of faith and history.
I am so foolish in comparison, especially when I respond to her in exasperation. So what if Mom cannot retain the answer and will ask the same question tomorrow, or in five minutes? At least she is asking! How blessed are her intellect, her curiosity, her compassion. I need to honor her by respectfully answering her questions each time she asks.
Dear Lord, thank you for my gifted mother. Help me be a loving daughter, and a curious one. May I always find ways to honor her and you by discerning truth and exemplifying my mother’s wisdom. Amen.
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