Through the Glass

The traditional dress from Tibet stood proudly on display through the glass. One of many cultures that filled the exhibition of the world cultures section of the National Museum of Scotland. I walked over to the map and  pondered all the native cultures the museum sought to capture. The map pointed out Thailand and had a picture of a family. The picture was familiar, a piece of home. It was curious to me to experience culture though glass displays. Cultures similar to the villages I experienced in Thailand. Globalization has altered this traditional life some, but aspects of it are still very much alive. I noticed a small sign that talked about the face value of culture. It explained how different the world would be if we chose to see people. To really see people. I could tell the writer had a heart for the world and sought to show others aspects of the world by creating an interactive museum. I have always loved museums and I enjoyed prancing around the different floors, but I felt I wanted more than just what a display could show me. I wanted to see and live the cultures. To see the culture through natives eyes and not just what an outsider would claim them to be. Every culture has a story, and I wonder how many voices from each native culture are truly heard.

I wandered around the museum with eyes full of wonder. Many species were on display in the main section of the building. Some species lost to the world, but many still alive. I chuckled as I read the sign that said “Every rock tells a story”. It’s exactly something my father would say. Rocks and stones are a central part of Scottish architecture and history. Each rock I have collected does tell a story. A story of the history of a location as well as my interaction in learning the history. As time moves the world forward, I can only set my hand upon the earth to pick up a fragment of physical evidence. A fragment is just a glimpse on how this world is continually changing. How life is moving forward with incredible speed. And I can only watch as long as my life allows.

I stood with my peers and watched the clock chime for the hour. The tall clock displayed horrifying figures of human suffering, but had Mary carrying Jesus at the top of it. The figures were hard to grasp, yet I knew a circumstance for each one. Children watched the clock in amazement, but could not recognize the clock for its purpose. I wondered at what point are children who have grown up in protective environments allowed to understand and recognize suffering. I wondered if I would ask questions about the clock at a younger age, or just stare in wonderment. From all the suffering I have seen and experienced, I saw the clock as a reminder. A reminder to pray for those who still suffer. For those whose circumstance has brought them to an environment of death and misery. All I can do is pray and hope that one day maybe I will be able to help the suffering of this world.

Earlier in the day we strolled around Edinburgh Castle. It stands high on a hill and shows impressive architecture. With swarms of tourists we adventured around the castle. Soaking up the information before us beyond sleepy eyes. The rooms looked as if Giants had lived in them, with tall ceilings and grand fireplaces. One building was dedicated to the fallen soldiers of Scotland. Each military branch was represented with a book of names under each display. Quotes on the wall showed the honor and respect to those who have fallen in every war the Scots have aided in. Golden letters lined each nook of the building as reassurance that the soldiers rest with God in his loving peace. I flipped through a book of names, many of which died around my age. They believed in the honor of the cause. Perhaps war is something I will never understand, but I do understand how passion drives people to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Countless lives have been lost at war, and the scenes are horrifying. Images no living species should have to experience. Yet, it is a part of this broken world. Scotland has immense national pride and welcomes visitors to honor and remember the fallen. One display in another part of the Castle talked about Scottish soldiers in Burma during WWII. The conditions described were familiar to me as I have seen and experienced the environment there. An environment that has not much changed in the past decades. The focus was very much on Scotland’s perspective, and I thought about how hard it must of been to fight in a country so drastically different from the land of eternal winter in Scotland. How hard it must of been to see such suffering amongst the culture. Yet, those who fought, fought proudly. And many still fight proudly today to defend and protect their people. Something thousands of people in cultures and nations across the globe take part in. A passion long since honored, and long since prayed for.

As the day faded to evening, we were treated to a Scottish show, which was a tad cheesy, but was quite fun. We sang along with the songs we knew and enjoyed chuckling to ourselves about the show. After wandering around to find gelato, we returned to the hostel and I fell asleep to the sweet sound of Elizabeth’s snores. Our time is almost to a close here, and my heart cherishes every moment with the wonderful people I have come to know so dearly these past three weeks. Friendships that have experienced tight quarters, tired feet, endless laughter, and the joy of one another’s company.


Bethany Jane


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