Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kudos to the AMNH

We were so deeply impressed by the quality of the information at the Dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.  Over and over exhibit commentaries were written in perfect accord with the Scientific Method, drawing careful conclusions and taking pains to explain why this or that assumption was not a legitimate conclusion based on measurable data.  And yet they stated quite unequivocally that our modern birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs, continuing their evolutionary line.  This was justified because of paleontological research in the last couple of decades that has proven this once controversial hypothesis.  Great writing and respectable science.  Kudos, AMNH.  See you again soon.

Unvarnished Awe

Last Saturday Barry and I traveled to the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West.  It was my yearly pilgrimage to the Butterfly Room at the museum.  It's a small conservatory, complete with flowering plants, bright Grow Lights and extremely high humidity.  And there are about 600 butterflies at any one time just flying around and sipping nectar and being beautiful.  This is as close to the tropics that you can get without actually taking the time to fly there.  It always boosts my spirits in the winter and makes me feel like I had a real vacation.

About a decade ago I went there for the first time.   I happened to have on a bright yellow sweater.  A huge fluorescent blue butterfly (a Blue Morpho) flew over to me and stayed on my sweater for about 15 minutes.  It was glorious. Ever since then I've worn yellow to that exhibit.  And this past Saturday I was fortunate enough to have 2 butterflies on my shoulder for a while.

Look closely!  She's there!
But the best part of the trip to the Butterfly Conservatory came toward the end of our visit.  Near the exit door the people were gathering to watch a little baby--maybe 3 or 4 months old at the most.  He was the picture of rapture, just staring at these butterflies all around.  His eyes went wide, his body stiffened, he kicked and moved his arms.  It was a dance of awe and self-forgetting.   I want to be like that in prayer, overtaken by awe and self-forgetting.