Not Quite Picture Perfect

When I took this photograph, I thought I was capturing a moment. I was wrong.

A view of the Little Red River from the bluffs of Mt. Eagle.

While out hiking, I had called my dad to wish him a happy father’s day. We had a pleasant enough conversation, and we said our goodbyes as I approached the bluffs overlooking the Little Red River. I stopped at the edge, struck as I always am by the beauty of God’s creation and the patience it took to form this land just so. I took this picture, hoping to capture a striking—perhaps even holy—moment.

I knew as soon as I clicked the shutter, however, that the effort was futile. The photograph couldn’t capture the noise of the cicadas or the play of the shadows. It couldn’t even hint at the complexity of my thoughts, how sons measure themselves against their fathers, and how the resulting fissures somehow heal with time. I zoomed in and tried the photograph again with no better success. Then I gave up.

Maybe better equipment would have helped. A better photographer certainly could have come closer to the spirit of the scene. But no matter how nearly a still shot might portray this moment, it could never quite measure up to the real thing.

The flaw in my efforts was one of intent. I wanted to “capture” the moment. To hold it captive, in other words. To freeze dry it and file it away so that I could access it anytime I like.

But even the marginally reflective among us know that we can’t possess time. Our most significant moments come to us before we are aware of them and often leave us quicker than we would like. We have the privilege of living them and of remembering them and—when we are especially blessed or lucky—of sharing them.

My picture of the sun setting over the Little Red is far from perfect. But it does serve a purpose, although not the one I had hoped. As a reminder of the moment, it is a disappointment. However, it is also a reminder that our moments are precious, and all the more so because they are fleeting.

May you be captured this week by moments that matter.

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