Mockingbird Monday – Boo Radley and the Potency of Questions
“The more we told Dill about the Radleys, the more he wanted to know, the longer he would stand hugging the light-pole on the corner, the more he would wonder. ‘Wonder what he does in there,’ he would murmur. ‘Looks like he’d just stick his head out the door…’”
“Wonder what he looks like?” said Dill (Chapter 1).
I was speaking at my alma mater recently. I met my wife on campus there – so visiting is quite nostalgic.
It makes me think of our first date. I asked her to go “study” at a local coffeehouse called AM/PM. It was the 90′s and coffeehouses were very trendy. I remember the music from bands like Soul Asylum, Better than Ezra, Stone Temple Pilots and Blind Melon playing, the rattling and hissing sounds of the coffee bar, artwork hanging on white, flat-painted walls, the strong smell of cigarette smoke (when people actually smoked indoors) and fresh brewed coffee hanging in the air around us as we sat at a table that first evening.
I also recall her carrying a huge backpack and immediately opening numerous textbooks not long after we found our seats. I was thankful that I had actually remembered to bring a notebook and sat there pretending to write. I think she had a pretty big test the next morning, so when I asked her “to go study” — she took me at my word (and let me interject here that she almost doubled my GPA at graduation).
I do, however, remember asking her a lot of questions that first night…which led to more questions. Fifteen years and four children later, I find we are still asking each other a lot of questions.
If you consider it carefully, questions are the beginning of every relationship, and the lifeblood of deep and meaningful connections.
Questions are the genesis of most everything substantial in our world.
Every grand adventure, every discovery, and every great accomplishment begins with a question.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill poses the question that drives the story. It is the question that leads the children on a journey toward a relationship with Boo Radley. I often wonder what might have happened if Jem, Dill and Scout had never wondered about Boo: What if they rested on the explanations they had heard about the Radleys from the adults in the town? What if they heeded Atticus’s warnings to stay away?
I could’ve been a tragic ending. Boo Radley might not have been there to save “his children” from Bob Ewell’s attack. I firmly believe it is the questions the children asked about Boo and their ever-present curiosity about him, that lead them into relationship with Boo. Without the questions, I wonder if there would have been gifts in the oak tree ora warm blanket wrapped around Scoutasshe watchedthe streetfire out in the cold. The question, “Who is Boo Radley?” is in many ways the foundation of the story and the driving force behind many of the scenesin Lee’s beautiful narrative.
I believe we can measure the vibrancy of our life, relationships, faith, and even our work by the voracity and boldness of the questions we ask. Consider the power of asking questions in your own life for a moment.
Our strongest relationships become stronger when we ask questions, when we maintain a curiosity about the other person. Think about your job: Do you still ask questions? Are you curious about your field? What about your faith? If you’ve read The Mockingbird Parables, you know that I use Boo Radley as a metaphor for God: Are you curious about God? Are questions encouraged in your faith community?