Our Search for Truth
To this day, I wonder where the saying, “Curiosity killed the cat”, came from. Did the cat drown in a river while peering over a bridge? Did the cat choke on something it shouldn’t have eaten? To whom did the cat belong and what made it curious?
We live in an information-saturated age. There are 24-hour news channels, and a Google search on any topic can give us thousands of websites where we may begin to find an answer.
When I was younger and landlines were still in wide use, our telephone rested on a giant phone-book which served as a pedestal. On the rare occasions when I was “curious”, I would open it and be sent into the world of area codes, school addresses, plumbers, post office, electricians and funeral homes. It was then that my younger self realised just how big the world really was. It was a big world for which I had big questions.
I like to think of our interior selves as long avenues. Along these avenues, some have trees that are tall and domineering, and others have shrubs and blinking street lights. If one dares to be still and listen, one will hear the whispering wind of curiosity disturbing the leaves and bringing branches to a sway.
The cult of celebrity
Many of us have a desire to know things. At the worst of times we want to know the inner lives of the rich and famous. The tempest grows to a tornado of gossip, fake news and distorted photos. Our still streets become so restless: we want to know what they eat for breakfast and where do they go on holiday. Do they shop for underwear by themselves?
At our best, we desire to know those closest to us. My dear friends, when I think of them, what do they dream of? Are they searching for fortune without the fame? Are they as conflicted as I am about how to find happiness? Have they found love? What does it feel like?
Somewhere down the avenue, behind a corner and into an alley, we desire to know what happens to us when the road ends. Who will meet us when we get there? Will there be judgment or mercy? I’ve never died before, I’m afraid to try it.
Up high upon a branch and staring into the distance, we can see the height of our intrigue. We desire to know the world around us. What brings the sun into my room in the morning? What makes the clouds restless? What is it that angers the sea? The moon hanging in the sky like a canvas, how does it play it so cool?
At our worst, the wind takes us to sleazy tabloids and bland talk shows. At our best, it encourages us to deepen our friendships and to become companions capable of empathy, laughter and interesting conversation.
Though curiosity is at times a wild gust and at other times a gentle breeze, it must be acknowledged that God desires to help channel this wind.
But this in itself is a scandal for the modern world. Usually we turn to everyone but God for answers to the big questions of life —perhaps mostly for convenience.
What will God reply?
Are you yearning to understand the meaning of marriage in age of separation and divorce? Well, if you look hard enough you will find blogs and podcasts about it. Want to have an insight into the mysteries of the universe? There will be journals about that. But seldom do we care to ask God. Who would talk to God? I think most of us want to but we’re too scared that God might actually talk back. We’re frustrated that God will take his time and answer us in his way.
Nevertheless, let us be carried by that wind guided by grace. “Faith and Reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth,” Pope John Paul II once said. The possession of truth is one of the greatest desires of the human heart superseded only by the desire for love.
It is settled, then, that for big questions we can expect big answers. Fly then, dear reader, high above the trees and to the vastness beyond where there lies the truth you seek.
This column by Nthabiseng Maphisa was published in the October issue of The Southern cross Magazine.
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