Friday, January 24, 2014

Benched Week 32: reflections

The blue sky promised to me in Seattle turned out to be overcast, but I was thankful it was, at least, dry.  Dreary beats drizzly any day.

I left my hotel in mid-afternoon, walking through a rather drab neighborhood made even less appealing by ample road construction.  I didn’t need a map to get to my destination.  A few blocks away the Space Needle loomed, smaller than I had imagined it, but still impressive, iconic.  And gray.

I quickly found color, though.  Riotous, vibrant, outrageous color.

First was the exterior of a museum, against which I captured this young woman, framed serendipitously against a violet wall. 

Then I found it in a great, red sculpture that looked like a giant’s construction toy. 

And finally, color came alive in the work of Dale Chihuly, glass sculptor, carefully lit in dark chambers of another museum, that seemed to bottle up the rainbow in spheres and worm-like ribbons.  What impressed me wasn’t just his use of color, but how he used light and reflection to augment it.

In this room, glass pieces were strewn across a transparent ceiling, allowing light to filter through.

And in this experiment, he floated his pieces in a simple Scandinavian boat on the ocean just to see how light would interplay with the hues.

I found myself reflected in this sphere, resting in the garden outside.  In another sense, I found myself reflected in much of the work – in the imperfections that made each simple globe unique.  I’m good at imperfections!

We are all drawn by beauty, in all its hues and shapes and seemingly infinite variety.  It fills us and thrills us because we see in it a reflection of a greater loveliness that our souls long for.  C.S. Lewis put it well when he said that those things of beauty “are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”  Or an intensity of a color just beyond the reach of our senses.

I have to admit an admiration bordering on jealousy for Chihuli’s work.  Color will never be my strong suit, but to find a form to explore, and define, and to give to the world – that would be sweet indeed.  To bring some beauty into another person’s life.  To point toward that greater loveliness.  Sweet.  Indeed.

And as to highlight the point, when I left the museum, the setting sun lit up the Space Needle, making it seem to glow from within.  But I knew better.

It was only reflecting.