My tenth-grade biology teacher told me I would make a good scientist. “You ask a lot of questions,” he said. Hearing criticism in his comment, I apologized. “Don’t apologize,” he responded. “Asking questions,” he said, “is a characteristic of a good scientist.”
A career in science was not in my future, but my inquisitive nature has played a major role in my spiritual life.
In my relationship with God, questions matter. God uses my questions to reveal where I need to grow.
This week, I started rereading old journals, and I find them filled with questions.
Repeatedly in my journals, I ask, “What does this mean for me? What is the lesson? The invitation?” Those questions appear in response to words of scripture, world events, conflicts at work and struggles in relationships. Almost anything can elicit these questions for me—books, movies, nature, a sentence or even one word overheard on a train or in line at a store. God catches my attention in many different ways and invites me to seek insight and meaning, to ask for direction.
In one of the journal entries from the time I was leaving my employment with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I reflected that for more than five years, while working with the Sisters, I had been pondering the love of the Sacred Heart. And then I asked, “How am I doing on a love-o-meter? Am I acting out of love? Is love my motivator?”
The image of a “love-o-meter” tickled me. I had forgotten writing that; but the image still works for me, as do the questions.
A few months later, when reflecting on the love of the Sacred Heart, I wrote about “the soft eyes of Jesus—accepting, seeing the best, seeing the potential.” That is what love does. Do I?
I have been reading journals from 2005-2006 and some of the questions I was asking then are still with me today: “Will this matter at the end of the week? In ten years? At the end of my life?”
Asking “will it matter…?” questions gives me perspective and helps me make decisions about where to put my energy. I try not to give too much energy to things that really don’t matter much.
One thing I learned from Jim as he was getting ready to die was that very little of his old life mattered at the end of his life. What mattered most was to be reconciled with the people who were important to him.
The past three years have been very difficult, with Jim’s illness and death and then my move back to Michigan. My old life is gone; God is doing something new with me. In this time of transition, I sometimes feel like I am on shifting sands. Perhaps it is time to resurrect the “love-o-meter” to help me keep on track in this new adventure.