We live next to downtown Seattle. There’s no sparkling view of Puget Sound, but a fine landscape of skyscrapers. An urban naturalist can observe the elements playing with these buildings as much as any mountain or prairie vista. At times the WA MU Tower’s penthouse summit is hidden in fog while its midriff can clearly be seen. (Despite the company’s horrific self-destruction, they built a damn fine building.)
And then there’s skyscraper light, the sun rays that reflect off mirrored/glass surfaces and dart across the city. This morning the curved 76-story Columbia Tower, with its hundreds of facets, sparkles into our living room, giving us morning light from a westward window. Some times other buildings do the honors. There’s something about this reflected light that makes every detail of a shadow laser crisp. Once we put a pineapple in the window to ripen. Its magnified shadow showed every curve, every button, every leaf in aching detail, the clarity that you long to possess in a landmark moment: God, please let me remember it all — the smell-sight-color-temperature-feeling-hope-beauty-warmth-fragility. Oh let me at least capture its reflection with the perfection of pineapple-skyscraper light. Reflected glory.
Always, the brightness moves on. With the sun’s changing position through the seasons, the angle and arrival of skyscraper light changes daily, hourly. Light moves, bounces, and lands again.
This week I’m leaving a position I’ve held for three years, doing development work for a Shakespeare company and moving to an ecumenical group that brings churches together for social justice and service. The light moves from the prism of Shakespeare’s stories illuminating the human soul to the solar panels of programs that house the homeless and intensify the warmth of compassion into practical heat. I long to capture the time with my Shakespearean compadres in the amber clarity of skyscraper light. I await the next burst, God’s gift arriving from an unknown direction.