“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find…”
“I should like to change the name seekers to explorers. There is a considerable difference there: we do not ‘seek’ the Atlantic, we explore it. The whole field of religious experience has to be explored and has to be described in a language understandable to modern men and women.”
– Ole Olden, Norwegian Quaker, in the Faith and Practice book for the Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain
I love this image of exploring, not just seeking. I certainly don’t speak or read Koine Greek, but I took just enough of it in college to know what to look for online – and indeed, it seems that my suspicion was correct that the original word for “seek” has the sense of “keep seeking.”
I think back to my childhood and the 2-acre field behind our house. If somebody had told me, “Go find the field”, I’d have looked at them oddly, set my book down and turned halfway around on the couch in the living room, pointed out the window and said, “There.” Done deal. Sought and found.
But if they’d said “Go explore the field” … well, that would be a different proposition entirely! My sister and the neighbor girls and I did exactly that for many hours every summer. We explored that field up one side and down the other, got stuck in the mud, jumped out of trees, got stung and bitten and scratched and scraped, and had a generally wonderful time.
We made tunnels in the tall grass, and hollowed out nests to read in. Our dad built us a fort, which served as a home base until it was knocked down in the process of clearing more pasture land. We spent that summer playing “war nurse” (I think I was on a Cherry Ames kick that year), and took turns huddling beside felled trees and bravely dodging imaginary air raids to get supplies for the imaginary wounded.
We spent a LOT of time back there, but there was always more to do, more to find, more to see. All you had to do to get a completely different perspective was clamber on top of the little well house, and you could see the entire field (now your royal domain, of course) stretching out at your feet. Or you could lie down in the late summer and look at the rectangle of brilliant blue sky formed by your sturdy little body’s impression in the waving green forest of grass. There was always more.
It’s too easy to say, “Here’s the field – I found it!” and set up a neat, comfortable little house on the edge where you can see it every day, think happy thoughts about it, and have “by the field” printed on your address labels, and maybe a little field bumper sticker on your car. That is not enough for me. I want to be out IN IT, tramping around through the woods and the grass and the blackberry brambles if necessary. I want to look at it from another perspective, climb up and survey it, lie down in the middle of it, and find out the hard way if I’m allergic to any of it.
I want to wake up every morning eager for more exploring, and to stay up a little too late at night finding out just a little more. I’m one of those women who can lose her car keys in her own purse, so I am that much more delighted by the promise that I will keep receiving, keep finding. Maybe, like U2, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – but I keep finding all these wonderful things I’m not looking for, and that’s worth getting a few scrapes and bruises.