I work in an office on the 15th floor of a glass-walled skyscraper. (Actually, I personally work in a cubicle in that office, but you get the idea.) There are few buildings in this area anywhere near this tall, and the region is mostly very flat, so the view from the windows is wide open -- and, at this time of year, quite pleasant, with lots of trees and other greenery dominating the surrounding neighborhoods, especially on our side of the highway.

Recently, we had a moderately strong storm come through the region, with swirling clouds darkening the day to virtual night, rain driven sideways by powerful winds that made the glass outer walls vibrate, vivid blue bolts of lightning, and bellows of thunder rattling everything from the building to our bones. There was no tornado or hail, but it was an energetic display just the same.

Here we stood, my office mates and I, in this bastion of modern comfort, 150 feet above the ground in a tower of glass and steel, for the moment distracted from our paper-pushing tasks and our technological communication with other people all over the planet, contemplating the forces of nature with a civilized awe and fascination that was nonetheless still rooted in primitive fear. Physically quite safe and surrounded by computers and fluorescent lights and telephones and central air conditioning, all I could think was that mentally we were staring at the storm from the mouth of the cave, hoping that our fire wouldn't die out.


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