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Leading with Questions

Leading with Questions by Julia Seymour

I crossed the busy cafeteria toward the girl waving her hand wildly. As I reached her table, she announced, “We have a question. Are mermaids real?”

I looked at the boy on her right and the girl on her left, each clearly having a stake in this debate. “What do you think?” I replied.

“You need evidence!” the boy asserted.

I nodded, “What is a mermaid, a creature with fish parts and people parts? If a mermaid has a person top and a fish bottom, someone would have probably seen them popping their head out of the water to take a breath.”

One girl looked skeptical at this thought, “Maybe they can breathe under water, like fish.”

“Then they would have gills on the side of their neck or somewhere to do that.” I motioned with my hand, while both girls quietly gagged at the thought. Their male counterpart looked distinctly pleased at the idea of a person with gills.
Our conversation drew to a close with the thought that we had never seen a mermaid nor had anyone we knew.

Some people somewhere probably did see something that looked like a mermaid once. If they were real, they are smart because they’ve never been caught in a net or seen by a submarine. As I walked away from their table, I thought about their questions and their assertions. They wanted to have a conversa­tion with all possibilities and the ramifications thereof. Evidence, possibility, and miscommunication were all to be taken seriously in consideration of mermaids.

The Rev. Julia Seymour serves Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchor­age, Alaska. She enjoys the Alaskan life with her husband, their two children, and her dog. Julia loves approaching everything with childlike wonder, including worship and community service.

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