Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Trip to the Museum


Earlier this week, I chaperoned Abby's class on a trip to the Field Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. I'd never visited before. I snapped photos along the way and once we returned home, several quotes found their way to me which provided a perfect caption commentary for the photos.

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After entering the museum, this bronze-cast moon grabbed my attention.

And once home, these words of Rilke illuminated:

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky. Rainer Maria Rilke

And then I found this ethereal gem from Rumi:

Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon. Rumi


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The graceful neck bones of the dinosaur below directed my eyes up to a beautifully designed ceiling. I love how the light plays on the hexagons. Each individual cut creates a shape which creates a pattern--like each individual moment crafts a day which crafts a life.

As I saw each exhibit, I pondered the devotion, time and patience it took to unearth each bone. Breathtaking, really.

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Then, from the third floor of the museum, I gazed out onto Central Park, complete with her Spring-ready trees and nodding daffodils way below. I'm always amazed at how quiet and calm the city appears from above.

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I adore wrought-iron windows. Their graceful bends and intricate patterns seem secretive and archaic.

Any device in science is a window on to nature, and each new window contributes to the breadth of our view. Cecil Frank Powell
(I found it a bit ironic that I contorted myself into one window to take a photo of another window. I did this once before, while at the Vatican. As I leaned out the window, snapping away, everyone thought that I must be photographing The Pope himself. Imagine their disappointment when they learned I was merely photographing a lamp post and a wrought iron window. See below.)



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After leaving the museum, fresh, cool air and Teddy Roosevelt and a Native American guide greeted us. They looked handsome and regal against the glorious periwinkle, cloudless blue sky.

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After seeing the natural and intricately beautiful displays of Mesozoic dinosaurs, moose, elephants and ancient rock structures, I felt as if I could hold in my hands my finite, infinitesimal life. When Abby and I stole a few moments to ourselves, we marveled over the incomprehensible concept of Trillions of Years. (As we talked, she leaned her lithe, long body against mine. That connectedness was blissful.) We sat, mesmerized by the vastness of time, stretching so far in each direction. Simultaneously, I acknowledged the pulsing knowledge that although our lives are but a swift blip, they are not futile.

And then I found these words:
No individual exists in their own nature, independent of all other factors of life. Each has the totality of the Universe at their base. All individuals have, therefore, the whole Universe as their common ground...Lama Govinda

This planet, this universe, providing a home to all. I love trips to museums and the variegated screen of perspective which lingers long after I shuffle the lengthy exhibits, pull on my coat (corral 100 2nd graders) and leave. An opportunity to remember:

For small creatures such as we the vastness
is bearable only through love. Dr. Carl Sagan

9 comments:

Dana Udall-Weiner said...

What a beautiful weaving you've made, connecting your particular experience with the timeless words of others. The pictures are lovely, and serve to remind me of all that is out there--that springtime beauty and those buildings and that architecture--far from my corner of the globe.

Alita said...

This is an excellent post. I loved all the connections that you provided as well as your photographs, too.

I just wish that I could visit NYC and soak up as much culture (even pop culture)with the pizazz that you so eloquently described.

rebecca @ altared spaces said...

Um, I could have stopped at the moon and felt full. But you are generous. Wow. I would like to go to the museum with you the next time. I'll pay the entry fee. Just let me see through your eyes.

Christa said...

Thanks for the stroll - just wonderful to see it all and hear your words. Beautiful....

Lindsey said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous ... I didn't know that first Rilke quote and adore it. And your pictures - wow. xox

ayala said...

I love the photographs and the connections that you made. Hope today was a day filled with magic :)

Cathy said...

I had to comment - the quote by Rilke is new to me but something about it is tugging at me.

Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri said...

Gorgeous and evocative Denise. I love the weaving of the quotes with the museum images. Glad you could experience this and grateful you shared it with us.

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