Coloring in the Crypt

A change of prices resulted in an early visit to the British Museum. I was thrilled. My love of museums has long attracted me to this master of museums. We started in the Enlightenment exhibit. Of the many wonders I took in, I might have smiled widest at a simple sign in Case 21. It was titled “The Americas” and the first sentence read, “Discovery is a relative concept.”

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Being an American who usually looks at the American side of history, I found this particularly funny. But also true. I discovered many things in the course of the day that had been rediscovered centuries ago. Their original discovery was even centuries older, and centuries before that was their creation.

The first of such discoveries occurred as soon as we stepped out of the underground station. I looked one way and was caught up in the beauty of the ancient architecture mingling with the modern. Then I turned my head and instantly thought! “Hey, this is famous! Wait a minute, I’ve been here.” Returning to Trafalgar Square awoke a sleeping memory; I had indeed been there. Although the lions are no longer allowed to be played on, I basked in the brief familiarity of a place I had discovered as a five year old. My own now personally ancient memories include laughing with my little sister as our daddy raised us to sit on the monstrous metal beasts and our mommy took our picture. I was pleased to note that the lions still felt massive, they did not shrink as I grew. Rather like Aslan, they grew as I did. But, this was not my main discovery of the square.

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We went on to the rubbings at St. Martins in the Field. Victorians long ago rubbed the brass plates found in the crypt centuries earlier than the Victorians. And centuries after the Victorians participated in this pastime, I did.  I chose to rub a Celtic Circle. We were thankfully instructed in the art of rubbing before we began. The swiping motion had to be done in only one way. If you moved the glorified piece of wax back and forth—up and down then the rubbing would work, but the end result would not shine. To make it shiny, you had to stay in one direction. I chose up. So up I strived to stay. Adding an extra color complicated things, but in the end, it was worth it. Especially if you had the help of a professional. We had not even stepped inside the church yet, and the lessons I learned about God and life were immense.

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The British museum presented an abundance of discoveries. In the 18th century, these artifacts from the 2nd century were presented to the British Museum. And before that someone discovered them. I stood in wonder as I looked at the remains of a lyre, helmet, shield, and gold jewelry found from the Sutton Hoo shipwreck. What must it have been like to discover this? And then to realize the significance of the discovery? How much do I miss by not realizing the significance of my daily discoveries?

Just as impressive to me as the ancient artifacts were the people in the museum. They were exhibits themselves. Were their lives to be displayed, they would have thousands of placards and stories. They hailed from all parts of the world. Each person in that room found something different the most interesting part of the room. Their stories mingling with thousands of years of stories presented a grand compilation.

This realm of discoveries is relative. Despite the fact that I was definitely not the first person to discover these wonders, I took great delight in the discoveries I made.  And in the process, I may have just discovered something altogether new about myself. Something that no one has ever discovered before and relative to the things I am learning. Within my heart, God has placed a treasure. Himself. This is deeper than I will ever be able to discover. It defines strength like the lions in Trafalgar square, expands larger than the entire collection of the British Museum, and endures more beautiful than the gardens of Regents Park. Nevertheless, I took my journal and my iPod to the secret garden I discovered on the grounds of Regents to enjoy the rare Britain sunlight and bask in the wonder of discovery.  

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