Somewhere, and I can't find where, I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?" "No," said the priest, "not if you did not know." "Then why," asked the Eskimo earnestly, "did you tell me?" If I did not know about the rotifers and paramecia, and all the bloom of plankton clogging the dying pond, fine; but since I've seen it I must somehow deal with it, take it into account. "Never lose a holy curiosity," Einstein said; and so I lift my microscope down from the shelf, spread a drop of duck pond on a glass slide, and try to look spring in the eye.
It's an interesting story. If the Eskimo never found out about God and sin, the Eskimo will never go to hell. So, if the priest never evangelized, the Eskimo would be safe from eternal damnation. Of course, there's always morality to guide a person's conscience. My guess is that the Eskimo would know that killing a person (or stealing or voting for Donald Trump) is a bad thing, no matter what. Yet, knowledge is something that can't be undone. If the Eskimo knows about God, he must contemplate sin and damnation. If Dillard knows about plankton and paramecia, she must somehow act on this information. As Einstein said, it's all about holy curiosity.
This morning, I went to a First Communion retreat with my son. We talked about the Last Supper and foot washing. My son designed a commemorative Communion plate; he drew a butterfly with the names of his godparents on it (my sister who recently passed was his godmother, and one of my best friends who's a Methodist pastor is his godfather). Then we ate pizza.
My son always has holy curiosity. When the priest or deacon or teacher asks a question, my son's arm is always the first in the air. This morning, he was answering questions about Judas and silver and transubstantiation. I call this blog "Saint Marty," but I have a feeling that my son is closer to obtaining that title than I am. Daily, he sort of amazes me with the depth of his faith. When we sit down to eat breakfast or lunch or dinner, he is always the first to fold his hands to say grace. A few days ago, he was walking with my wife and motioned the Sign of the Cross over himself for safety. That's faith. Real faith.
In the afternoon, I attended a reading given by MFA students at the university where I teach. They were reading from their theses. Fiction and nonfiction and poetry. I heard it all. Two of the readers I saw were former students of mine. And, as I sat listening to these young people read from the fruits of their creativity, I think I was witnessing holy curiosity again. Writers take leaps of faith every day when they sit down to write. When I blog, I usually have no idea what's going to come out of my head and on to the computer screen. It's always a surprise (hopefully a pleasant one). Holy curiosity.
So, Saint Marty has been in the presence of the divine (in one manifestation or another) all day. Like Einstein. Like Dillard. He's in good company.