Florida Museum of Natural History, Butterfly Gardens. Photo by Desi Ferber, 2/23/17
I had a lovely time at the butterfly gardens this morning. I have been to many in different parts of the world and I never get tired of it. Butterflies represent all that is good in the world to me. They are colorful, innocent, and at peace with nature. The pictures I took did not represent the best of the experience, because I prefer to set aside the camera and immerse myself in the experience with my natural senses. Feeling the sunlight and the cool breeze, hearing the waterfalls gurgle and the birds twitter, watching the butterflies fly around: why ruin the experience with photos that can never compare to memories?
Butterfly on my boot, Florida Museum of Natural History, Butterfly Exhibit. Photo by Desi Ferber 2/23/17
Nature on Display: I love butterfly gardens because they manage to preserve the sanctity of nature and the natural world while still making it easily accessible to the curious public. It is almost like something out of a fairy story: winding paths, yellow sunshine, babbling brooks and little birds and butterflies fluttering everywhere among vivid tropical plants. The world explodes with color like nowhere else. There are benches to sit and watch the world go by. Definitely another of my top ideas for a good reading nook. I think what is so wonderful to me about this exhibit is that while you don't really pick up as many concrete facts as you might in something more geared towards traditional teaching, you gain a deep understanding of nature and a feeling of peace and prosperity. It makes you want to stay forever in the sanctity of this little bubble where you cannot be bothered to worry about all that is wrong with the world. A butterfly garden is one of the few places in the world I feel truly at peace. I wish I was at one now instead of typing this, to be honest.
Butterflies on an information plaque, FLMNH. Photo by Desi Ferber, 2/2317
Nature and ethics. As Leopold says, we need to appreciate the land for more than just its economic value. Sitting in a place like this, watching the world go by, watching little children silently gape in awe and delight, watching elderly people in wheelchairs and with canes smile with a youthful joy and vitality, it occurs to you that this feeling of peace, of joy, of rightness, cannot be surpassed by the value of mass-produced farm goods or hotels and tourist attractions. The land doesn't need to have value, and it doesn't matter one whit that the trees give oxygen and the rain forests help the environment: even if they didn't, this is worth preserving, simply because it exists and because it is beautiful. I was connected, I felt what Leopold felt and speaks of, and I feel the responsibility more than ever to preserve this magic.
Butterfly on Plant, FLMNH. Photo by Desi Ferber, 2/23/17
Heschel is one of my favorite religious leaders because he understands what so many do not: spirituality is more than the scriptures. I am not religious in my own mind, so the spirituality of love and the natural world are as close to a relationship with divinity as I will get, and for me it is far better. I do not have to follow a ritual or a rule, there is no schedule for appreciating nature, and I do not have to attempt to know the unknown. I can just enjoy, feel the bubble of peace and sensuality apart from the bustle of campus and cars and buses and classes. I can breathe, breathe and feel close to all that is good in the world. I feel the love and the spirits of those I have lost, those who came before, the beautiful entity of mother earth and the divinity of collective human experience enjoyed only by those who are willing to appreciate the most simple and yet the most amazing things in life. No matter where I am, here I am home.