But just like that precious night a year ago, I find myself pulled back into the kids' rooms over and over again. Often for another kiss, sometimes for a drink a water, and increasingly with the beckoning of a question.
Mama, how do those shadows get there?
Mama, how does my fan keep spinning?
Mama, why is the wind so noisy?
My son has a little flashlight that he likes to sleep with, which was originally intended to illuminate a book until he could fall asleep. But lately, his mind races with "How?" and "Why?" and I find him exploring the insides of his fan or crawling underneath his bed to "investigate," even hours after putting him to bed. He is full of questions and a yearning to learn. A lovely curiosity.
Rachel Held Evans writes in her book, Faith Unraveled, "Those who say that having childlike faith means not asking questions haven't met too many children."I remember being curious as a child, often asking "Why?" - wanting to understand the meaning and mechanism behind things, just like my own children do now. Wanting, often, simply to learn and converse, not just to find a definitive answer. Much to my mother's dismay, I would push and prod if her responses didn't feel sufficient for my little heart. I am sure there were many bedtime battles, questions rattling off my lips as my mother tried to slip out the door to piles of laundry and a moment alone. As a mother myself now, I empathize with her short answers, her tired replies. But as a child, I just wanted to know.
When I reached adolesence, still asking and searching and investigating everything, I found comfort in a religious system that claimed to have all the answers. And although for a season those answers wrapped me with a great sense of security and purpose, I soon realized that the answers were being given without a space for conversation, without room for questioning or pushing back. I realized that my desire, my need, was more for learning and conversing then for knowing and answering.
Evans writes later in her book, "I used to be a fundamentalist...the kind who thinks that God is pretty much figured out already, that he's done telling us anything new. I was fundamentalist in the sense that I thought salvation means having the right opinions about God and that fighting the good fight of faith requires defending those opinions at all costs. I was a fundamentalist because my security and self-worth and sense of purpose in life were all wrapped up in getting God right - in believing the right things about him, saying the right things about him, and convincing others to embrace the right things about him, too."Today, there is much more that I am unsure of than what I have figured out. With each new question, another ten unfold, and I find myself constantly learning and opening up to new understandings. Asking "How?" and "Why?" as frequently as my children.
Gone are the black-and-whites, the "ins" and "outs," the days of such sure answers and of constant certainty. Today, I have more questions than answers. And a deep yearning to learn. A lovely curiosity.
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