At other places

Who’s Afraid of Big Words Like Holiness? What If It’s Not What You Think?

April 19, 2016 0

holy curiosity: Ashley Hales

Curiosity is a creeping thing like the seeping of water into the grass’ edges. It not until you step into it that you realize you’re not where you thought you were. That the ground is different than you anticipated. Curiosity doesn’t write itself in the sky with bright letters. Curiosity taps you quietly on the shoulder until you either take heed of it and follow, or it leaves an ache from the bruise of constant, ignored tapping. You can choose to follow where it goes, or get on with your life, too busy to get lost in big questions.

I used to think curiosity was responsible for the wanderlust: my years abroad where all the stacked layers of history were constantly new. Every place promised home, or at least adventure. Curiosity felt like a burgeoning promise as it pushed me into moving every few years for a degree or my husband’s job. And “new” felt holy too. We’d dream about grand adventures, about amassing information and making new contacts, about being God’s hands in hard soil. It felt important somehow to think of ourselves and our mission as burrowing into international cultures, or at least urban ones. We would join the ones on the edges, doing hard things for God.

Yet, now we find ourselves driving a minivan miles from where we grew up. I’m learning the quiet truths as my circles constrict. Curiosity cannot be holy if it is focused on my own need for recognition. “Holy” after all means “other.” And if my curiosity is only about tracing the path of my own mind, my own mission, my own sense of calling, then I am not about the holy. I am only about myself.

Holiness always propels us towards others.



I’m writing and processing the lessons I began to learn this last week at the Festival of Faith & Writing (and I’ll have more about all that soon!). Today, I get to do it at my friend, Cara Meredith’s, blog. I hope you’ll hop on over and read the rest. Most of all, I hope you’ll respond — I want to know if you think this idea hits home: that changing the world isn’t really what you thought it was initially. That it has more to do with holy curiosity in the small, unseen moments than truth writ large.

What are you curious about? What lessons are you learning about paying attention?