Cardinal in the bush. Happy Sunday
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
It is hard to resist attempting a shot of a Northern Cardinal when one sits less than 6 feet away. And sits while you stand there looking. The fact that it is buried in dense leaves and twigs, and, if it were not so bright red, would basically be invisible to the naked eye, should not stop you…at least if you have manual (and selective) focus on your camera. My Sony has an interesting feature called Direct Manual Focus, which allows you to set one of the control rings on the lens barrel to manual focus, while keeping the camera in auto focus. Then, when you use the ring, the camera automatically switches to manual until you stop moving the ring. It also has a “focus lock” button that allows you to lock in the focus once achieved. When I use it, I get the focus close with DMF and then let the Auto focus do its work, which it does nicely, and then lock it. And you get an image like this: Cardinal in the bush… with highly selective focus.
And I am thinking that the generous eye has to have its own DMF…its own highly selective and intentional focus. We go through the world, too often, and too many of us, on auto focus, allowing circumstance and our inner mood to determine what we focus on. Too often we are distracted by the bright leaves and the tangle of twigs (and thorns) that this world presents, when, in fact there is a Cardinal in the bush, waiting to fill our souls with beauty, if we can shift our focus to see it clearly. The generous eye requires conscious decision, especially while we are developing it (and in this world we will always be developing it). If we are going to be full of light, we need to choose what to focus on. God is good, and often makes what will nourish our souls both bright and beautiful, like the Cardinal, so it is had to miss…but miss it we will, too often, unless we take the time to focus.
I could have walked right by this bush and not seen the Cardinal. (In fact it was pointed out to me by someone who had seen it wriggle its way in there.) I could have decided it was not worth the effort, buried as it was. But the generous eye both sees and takes the time to focus…and is always rewarded with beauty.
Of course, what nourishes our souls is not always bright or even apparently beautiful. Sometimes it is very subtitle. Sometimes it is just a glint of light among the shadows. If we do not take the time to practice our selective focus when something as bright and beautiful as a Cardinal is found in a bush…then we will certainly miss the more subtle presentations of God’s beauty and that light the generous eye finds buried in the shadows of this world.
I would like to think that the focus of the generous eye will become automatic in time, and that I will one day walk in a world where everything I see is beautiful and full of light. I am confident I will. But while I walk in this world still, I plan to practice selective focus until it approaches automatic…so that I don’t miss God’s beauty and light when it is right there in the bush beside me. May your eye be generous and your focus deliberate, and may you be presented with many opportunities to practice today and every day. Happy Sunday!