I pride myself on answering questions. As a teacher I have the opportunity to answer many, and I try to do so with precision and completeness.
But some questions are different.
This one pierced through the normal routine of question posed, answer given. Or it should have.
With its innocence and purity—and attendant insight and wonder—this question from my young daughter brought me up short.
What an astoundingly good question. Why are there flowers, anyway? I shudder now to think how such a question can be easily cauterized, sanitized, and bound up neatly. How often do we in the position of teacher find ourselves explaining away, rather than explaining. Or rather than simply entering into the wonder—the wonder stemming from having chipped off a little piece of something very big and found it shimmering with an unseen significance—we parry the thrust: effectively making the questioner think he’s asked a question easily handled. We snuff out the wonder. And why? Because we don’t have time; or worse, we lack the child-like humility to enter into the wonder. Wonder can be scary, and uncomfortable.
“Because that’s how plants reproduce.”
Good God, what an answer I gave. As though there could not have been a thousand other ways for plants to reproduce. But they in fact put out flowers!
Yes, Juliana, why. Why? Please ask me again. I promise: I’ll see it through your eyes. At least I’ll try to.
For somewhere in the real answer to your question—the answer you must have sensed, the answer you deserve—is a truth beyond my telling. A truth that will endure for you and for me, even after all the flowers are gone.