Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

I Don't Know

By Mary Ann Hughes
Mary Ann Hughes

About a year ago, my daughter-in-law asked if we could do family dinners on Sunday nights. I grew up without any extended family in town, so of course I was thrilled.

A few weeks ago after a family dinner, I decided to do some science experiments with my three-year-old grandson.

You know, the easy stuff. Do oil and water mix? If you add grains of black pepper to a bowl filled with water, can you still see them? What about grains of salt? Will they disappear?

Before each experiment I asked him what he thought would happen. Every time, he looked up at me with his deep brown eyes and answered in a kind, patient voice, “I don’t know.”

At the time, his responses didn’t register, but then I started thinking about them. I believe we are each born with God-given gifts and talents. It’s our responsibility to use them wisely over our lifetimes.

But what about knowledge? Parents get the first shot at it. They can infuse their children in a most wonderful way, or they can teach them terrible lessons that may take a lifetime to unlearn.

Teachers are next. We hope every child gets many good ones.

I’ve been fortunate to have pastors who were teachers. One of my favorites reminded us a lot that “life is messy!”

Recently my pastor, Benedictine Father Godfrey Mullen, asked us to remember those who were not sitting in the pews with us. Those set apart because of mental illness, job loss, grief and weariness. He reminded us about those who look differently, smell differently or act differently.

Father Godfrey said that Jesus hears their tender cries, and so should we.

It was a beautiful teaching moment for the congregation, and people were still talking about it weeks later.

I remember the summer that I received my college degree. That was the first time in my life that I knew with absolute certainty that I didn’t know anything. I had a spoonful of academic knowledge about Chaucer and Shakespeare, but not much else.

As life-long Catholic learners, it’s important for us to have good, moral, knowledgeable people in our lives.

I have a wonderful spiritual director who has encouraged me and guided me for years. She is on a path that I would like to follow, and I have found her insights to be invaluable.

Parents, teachers, pastors, spiritual directors. They can all help us on our journeys.

If we have good ones, they can steady us when we stumble, and they can help us when we have questions … when we say, “I don’t know.”