What is a secularist to do when he needs a certain spiritual lift? Some climb to mountain tops; I walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
More specifically, my journey starts from the Brooklyn side of the iconic structure so that Manhattan’s skylines serve as backdrops.
On a warm, hazy summer afternoon a few years ago, I took my first trip along the bridge’s pedestrian walkway. For my second trip this summer, though, I walked during dusk and night to capture new perspectives with my cameras.
So what’s so spiritual about this trip? After my maiden voyage I started to write an essay about it but didn’t finish. I expect to return to it again one day. But rather than tease you, I’ll give you a taste: the walk offers a condensed view of all that makes New York — and by extension, man’s reasoning mind and abilities — grand.
From the walkway, bridge-goers get a sweeping view of the midtown skyline, where the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower are among the standout skyscrapers. Just south of the bridge is lower Manhattan, where One World Trade Center is the centerpiece surrounded by other Wall Street towers and luxury apartment buildings. After you’re done taking obligatory photos of the bridge’s Gothic stone towers, you may want to capture these skylines through its web of steel cables.
Next, take a hard left with your camera, toward New York Harbor. In the distance you’ll find the Statue of Liberty holding her torch aloft to enlighten the world; turn right for the neighboring Manhattan Bridge.
When I stopped taking photos to consider all of these man-made marvels, the steady, mild vibrations underfoot from the vehicles crossing the bridge below became more pronounced. Further down, all manner of boats — sailboats, cruise liners, barges — parted the East River. Occasionally a helicopter buzzed by overhead. All of these products of reason, too, helped fuel the unyielding, invigorating hum of the sleepless city.
What does all of this mean — how does it translate into a secular spiritual experience? To be continued ...