Although this photograph isn’t that clear, I like it because it conjures up one of my favorite New York City memories. I’ve wanted go to the Museum of Modern Art since 1998, and I was determined to get there on this trip by “hook or crook.” I’ve visited other museums in Manhattan but never the MoMA (there’s just something about that acronym that grabs me), and I yearned to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night “up close and personal.”
Picture this. It was bitterly cold, and we were all tired and beginning to drag a little. As the afternoon wore on, we realized that there was no way we were going to be able to visit the MoMA and go back to Rockefeller Center for a longer visit. We had actually been there the evening before, but the throngs of people and our need to get to the theater on time precluded much more than a quick walk through. Still, since I’d “been there, done that,” I wanted to go to the museum and was determined to go even if it meant breaking up our buddy system rule and going alone. My pal Jeanita, perennially upbeat and ready for adventure, volunteered to accompany me. The problem was getting there; all the taxis seemed occupied and rushed right by us. Grinning, she pointed to a rickshaw and asked, “Want to?” I was game, and as we sped along Broadway to our destination, we found ourselves laughing like schoolgirls. We certainly had a view of the hustle bustle unlike any we’d had before and were excited to be in the midst of it all.
As an aside, our rickshaw driver was a young man from Turkey who’d only been in America for a month; he was ecstatic about being here, and Jeanita and I were reminded of how fortunate we are to be living in the United States.
Arriving at the museum, we were surprised and disappointed to learn that it closed at 5:30, and it was already 5:00. Still, I had traveled a long way and waited a long time to see Starry Night, and I wasn’t going to get the late hour or the high admission price deter me. We bought our tickets and found our way to the second floor where the Van Gogh exhibit was housed. My favorite painting was in the last room, and rather than race to it, Jeanita and I took our time (sort of) and enjoyed the hushed, almost reverential feeling of the rooms.
Anticipation building by the moment, we turned a corner, looked to the left, and there it was: Starry Night. I’m not sure why I like this painting so much, but there’s just something about the tiny town nestled down beneath the swirling stars that touches my spirit. The action’s in the heavens, and yet sometimes we on Earth get so puffed up with our significance (or lack thereof) that we forget that we’re part of a glorious universe. Plus, there’s the church spire pointing heavenward…the cypress trees too. Jeanita and I stood staring for a few minutes, walked away to look at other paintings, and then came back for a final stare. It was worth every dime of the admission price, and I’m so glad that I got to see it with one of my oldest and dearest friends.
But here’s the lesson we learned: Several of the paintings in the exhibit were of people sowing seeds. In fact, it was a little surprising to see so many of them instead of other well-known Van Gogh paintings. As I was staring at yet another faceless person sowing seeds in the ground, I remembered something I had recently read in a church magazine. The message was to walk away from situations in which negative seeds were being sown. Whether gossip, hateful or sarcastic comments, or any other type of negative conversation, the article encouraged the reader to walk away. While I don’t recall the author encouraging the reader to sow positive seeds of encouragement, Jeanita and I decided on the spot that we were going to do our dead level best to do more of that.