It all began with a discovery; a moment of, "Look! See what I found? A friend to keep for my own." And we delighted in the discovery, in the tickling sensations and tiny tidal movements that to small uncalloused hands feel like hope and promise. But we also had to learn that some creatures are not meant to be ours, no matter how much we want them to be. We had to learn to let go. We had to learn the most contradictory of terms in one act; reason and faith.
"The caterpillar will transform into a butterfly," observes the astute six year old.
"But I don't want it to be a transformer," argued the four year old, "it's not a robot! You are wrong!"
During the escalating argument between reason and faith the caterpillar was forgotten. The dramatic gestures and shaking fists of certainty forced us back to the point of discovery; the poor thing held on as long as it could through the storm it had unwittingly caused, but lost its grip. The caterpillar, the source of such heights of wonder and passion, began to free fall towards the pavement. I caught it with inches to spare and we all let out a gasp. The same gasp we all let out when we discovered the bug.
While my children cheered that I saved the caterpillar, they also realized that nothing had changed yet everything had changed. The caterpillar was still destined to be reborn and we were still left to deal with struggling to understand how that could be and how we could accept such a seeming impossibility with the tools, reason and faith, that caused us to lose sight of what mattered in the first place.
Einstein said the process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder. Yes, I agree, and that process journeys us in perpetual circles. If we are not too dizzy we can reflect on the situation. When we keep our hearts open and our minds free, sometimes when we are lucky, we see ourselves reflected back in the eyes of the discovery. And the wonder begins anew.