I am curious about many things. I ask too many questions, go on too long in circuitous answers. So it puzzled me, years ago, when a friend told me about the conversation he’d had with his father:
“He really didn’t know what it was,” the tall one said. See, his father had been a Methodist all his life. He’d seen the cross and flame every Sunday going to church, and then one day, my tall one referred to the symbol, and his father replied, “The what?”
“The cross and flame. You know, the symbol of your church.”
“I just always thought it was a shroud or something.”
“You’ve been going to that church for years and you never wondered what it was or what it meant?”
And that’s what puzzles me. Adages promising death to probing felines don’t bother me— we have satisfaction as a safety net. What bothers me is the thought of being completely incurious about something.
When my mother brought me to that Methodist church as a kid, you bet I knew what that symbol meant. It wasn’t taught to me, but I followed the threads of the quilt hung in the church hall outlining the iterations of the symbol, the years they were adopted. I snooped through history books and read of John Wesley. I was curious. I was a cat. I thought that was something basic about being a human— that wanting to know. Isn’t it what drives science?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to find that attitude sitting in a church pew, coming from an old gent who grumps about change. I know the man, it’s entirely in character.
But to know that not everyone is a curious soul is a little slice of winter— like the tongue of a candle flame snuffed out.