lighting the bridge before the sun

Posted on Categories giving

at 5:00 AM, nobody seems tired. coffees have been drank, parking spots have been filled, and now we gather at the East Portal Viewpoint, above the early commuters whooshing into the tunnel to Seattle. another cohort assembles across the bridge, on Mercer Island.

one thousand, five hundred and sixty-four people registered to rise before the sun on the Autumnal equinox. bike commuters pedaling up from the bridge ding their bells. “what the hell are all these people doing here,” they must wonder as they negotiate the mellow crowd.

we all represent one or another non-profit organization; Ladybug House, College Access Now, Make a Wish, and so on.

light blue stretches steady over the cascades behind bellevue, heralding the sun. Mt. Rainier asserts a shadowy bulk on the southern horizon. i imagine that, at this moment, we’re the largest gathering of people in seattle. on the west coast, even, and perhaps in the nation, the largest group gathered for reasons neither political nor economic. right?

of course, politics and economics weave into all of our motivations. Family Law Casa, who brought the largest team here, creates tremendous political and economic benefits. in addition to fundraising for amazing causes, though, many of us have come just to gather, to join in a beautiful celebration of giving. like the three women who, alone, represent an organization called Hands of Love.

most of us would have come no matter the weather. perhaps a miserable morning of rain would have led to even more solidarity between us all. but ultimately, none of us would change anything about the rising dawn.

when we each pick up a lit “give me five” glassybaby, we walk down a path to the bridge. yellow rays open in the bluing sky and glimmer on lake washington, all cross-hatched by wind. it’s chilly on the bridge. invigorating. people clump together for warmth. the summit of mt. rainier begins to shine. people clink their glassybaby together, “cheers,” some wishing they had irish coffee inside.

then we see it, flying north along the shore of mercer island, blinking, banking left at the bridge to strafe sidelong.

wide craters ripple in the water under the helicopter. it chops the air, drowning out the commuting traffic behind us. we forget the chill in the air. we raise the glowing glassybaby in our hands and cheer. this is the moment when all of our purposes coalesce into one; this is a moment of beauty, an event, a celebration that brings all our lights together into a single long and glowing line to greet the day.