Focus and Click
David Budbill wrote a short poem that can be found in his poetry book Happy Life.
A Certain Slant of Light
A certain slant
this time of year
says more than
color in the hills
or chill air
My husband and I head north into town to vote early. On the way, I am struck by orange maples, red sumac, yellow hickories. I mention them as we go.
God is behind everything we see, of course.
Now and then, I ask my husband if he’d please drive slow or stop. I am a hunter, trying to capture what I can with a camera.
Focus, click. Focus, click.
I keep checking to see if the photo shots are good enough. Never brilliant enough for this hunter. The camera falls short of what my eye sees.
What is it in me that seeks the beauty of fall days? I think I see something of God. He is present in all things. Trees and shrubs—just one of the ways God reveals Himself to us. I know God is not the tree or shrub, you understand, but He is in everything He created.
I love that God reveals Himself to us. It’s greater than our voting, than the lunch we’ll find somewhere, than the music we hear in the car.
Color and light. Beauty. Gifts to us.
I ask my husband if he’ll drive down College Street, because there’s this one tree that’s spectacular.
“Where on College?” he asks.
“The tree is across from Ponder Drug Store. You’ll know it when you see it. I look for it every year.”
He spots it and stops the car on a side street. Focus, click. Focus, click. On our way to the voting location, I spot another set of trees. I just point.
“We’ll come back for those,” he says.
After voting, we are back on the trail. Focus and click.
How could I have forgotten what fun it is to find God’s beauty in our town? I usually do whatever I can to avoid town.
Beautiful day. Sun shining. We stop at Walmart, and he wishes for his cap. Remembered his mask, forgot his cap. He does not feel right without the cap.
Fifteen minutes later, we are back on the road.
“Be on the lookout for amazing trees,” I say. We laugh.
What are we really doing?
Paying attention, focusing. Maybe it’s a tribute to God.
Like Budbill, we are paying attention to what God created.
My husband wants to show me a Brahman bull, up close, but it’s not where he’d hoped it would be. Not giving up, we take a county road behind that field. Plenty of beauty, but no Brahman bull.
Instead, we find tall heads of grass that have not been touched by a mower, rolling hills, a pond. More tall grass, hushed and bowing. It was like each blade knew its true position in this world.
We are paying attention. Everything belongs to God, not to man.
As we pull into our gravel drive, I thank my husband for the ride, for the fun. I thank God for His amazing beauty.
If only I can keep my eyes on God and be like the tall grass bowing. If I can just remember to look for God in the slant of light, the face of a buck, the face of the man holding the cardboard sign begging for help, the face of brokenness.
Any beauty I can see is a reflection of God, whether I’m awake to it or not. If it’s God-created, then it is a glimpse of His face.
God, forgive me when I forget that you are omnipresent and deserve worship.
Looking and adoring—a way to love the one true God.
The spectacular tree on College Street in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Photographed by Pat Durmon, October 2020.