Rebecca sat down in my office and began complaining about her husband. Then her mother. Then her kids. A coworker. It seemed everyone, in concentric circles, was a jerk, a moron, or in the very least not all Rebecca required them to be.
There was a brief lull, in which she asked what the little rock on my office shelf was about. I put it in her hand and asked her to describe it to me.
“It’s grey. Uh, I dunno, has different marks on it?”
“Anything else?” I asked. She shrugged.
I explained to her that it was a piece of the World Trade Center’s rubble, plucked from a New York sidewalk September 20th of 2001 and given to me. I watched as it grew heavy in her hand, despite it being all the same molecules from a moment before. Her eyes widened. The shrug-inducing little rock was now somehow sacred to her. A vessel of stories. Yet the only change that had occurred was the addition of her careful consideration. She could no longer describe it. She could only hold it in honor.
Jesus was questioned by the Separatist Party about when the Kingdom of God would be established. Jesus answered them, “The Kingdom of God isn’t a place that you’ll see with your eyes. No one will be able to say ‘Hey, there it is!’ or ‘No, it’s here, not there!’ No, the Kingdom of God is inside you.”
-from Luke 17
Maybe you’d agree that something important—perhaps even beautiful—happens when you feel that I assess you for more than your mere tribal usefulness, or your sexual benefit, or your economic utility, or your social advantage, or your sharing my interests, or your threat to my interests, or your willingness to stroke my ego, or your general enhancement to my day…but as something assumed to be bursting at the seems with context and story and worth. When you sense that I believe, even if you don’t, that you house the Divine, and that you're worth being interested in because you exist, you think more highly of us both.
How else can we ever understand Christ’s challenge to Love, from ourselves all the way out to even our enemies, if we will not employ this sacred curiosity. After all, the Kingdom belongs to Children according to the Christ. And Children, as well as the Childlike, are masters at retaining their curiosity about things the rest of us numb old adults have already made up our minds about. Curiosity is the shovel Love uses to dig up treasure it’s convinced is buried in the existence of every human being on earth.
If in any measure we accept a place in a Tradition summarized by Loving others as I wish to be loved, then we can never behold a mere rock again. In Love, that way of slowing our inner critic/judge to a near standstill, that way of saying that there’s always always always more going on than a lack of curiosity can ever reveal, we always find value. And what we can find value in we revere, we honor, we respect and serve and hope good things for. If the Kingdom of Heaven resides within a human being, with or without their realizing it, then what in the world else is going on of jaw-dropping, recalculation-inducing, awesomeness in others? A rock is just a rock until you allow yourself to consider its whole story. And then its never just a rock again.
However you hold those in your life, if it’s not with continued curiosity and openness, if it’s not with the often exhausting work of not making up your mind so you don’t confuse a label you’ve settled for with the actual person, then you’re not a bad person—you’re just woefully under-informed. You’re missing the fuller story.
So we wake up each day, and wake up to each person, again and again and again, assuming there’s more to know, more to value, more to understand. This curious assumption demolishes snap judgments and old verdicts and builds the strangest sort of Kingdom in its place. One which has no location apart from where you and I Love each other enough to listen and see again.