Skyscrapers and Leaves

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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“What’s that building?” she asks.

“Which one?” I ask.

“The dark one there.” She points. “The one with the strange angles that looks like it is leaning.” She points at a gleaming glass-façade edifice with straight unbroken lines. I am puzzled. Then I see it.

“That’s a glass reflection of a building across the street,” I explain. “The angles and apparent leaning are the reflection, not the building itself.”

“Oh, I see now.”

We step into a wooden walkway beside an office tower lined with washers. I wonder aloud what stone covers the building. “Well, it is white," my wife observes. She reaches to touch it. “Feels like marble.”

On the next block, we walk past a line of new ornamental trees. “What kind of trees are these?” she asks. I study the bark, the leaf color and shape. I report that they must be young live oaks, although I do not recall live oaks having such straight trunks and symmetrically shaped leaf canopies.

And so it goes throughout our stroll along the big city streets. My wife sees mainly shapes; she is losing her eyesight to the ravages of glaucoma. I have become her interpreter of detail.

“God is in the details,” the architect Le Corbusier said. To plan a building, an architect must labor first over multitudinous points from site location to issues of engineering viability—can such a design be built without collapsing?—to effective lighting, to hardware to open doors and windows. The more I consider the construction of those skyscrapers my wife and I are admiring, the more I appreciate them. In some ways—and this I think is what Le Corbusier meant—the coming together of so much minute detail into an edifice of cohesive function and beauty is a miracle of God.

My wife has always been more alert to detail than I. Now that I am a primary interpreter of the visual world around her, however, I am better tuned in. I attend more now to both the natural world and the world of fabricated objects. My lack of experience shows when I stumble for words to tell my wife the details of what we are seeing. I notice now, for example, a reddish hue in the yellow blossoms of our favorite hibiscus, but I stumble to identify the exact shade of red. We could all probably test our own histories for detail by the vocabulary we have to describe the world around us. We could apply similar tests to our olfactory, auditory, and tactile senses.

Spiritually, attention to the details of the creations of God and man is one avenue by which we grow in love for both. What God has made, and what He guides human beings in making, most certainly is best appreciated when we notice the details.