My husband hands me his “real” camera for the first time. I peek through the viewfinder at silky white desert primrose petals swaying in the warm breeze. Coyotes yip in the distance as the peachy lemon sun glow melts into the ruddy-faced mountaintop. 

I click the shutter, zooming in and out, prone with my elbows in the rough sand. I stand and brush the desert off my pants. We walk again, further into the twilight haven. My husband stops suddenly, reaching into his camera bag. He is silent—staring at something rustling in the dry brush at 2:00. A pair of rams dip their battle-scarred horns—grazing now. Whether they’ve mated or not, they are worn out from the fight. 

“Focus,” he says. He shows me how to adjust the focal point “not in the center.”

I watch the rams through the viewfinder, focusing on one then the other. As they move I have to readjust my focus. It is easy enough to do with the camera. Maybe not so easy in my life. 

I am about to celebrate my 65th birthday. No denying “oldness” now. I count the losses, knowing there will be more. We have lost our parents. We have gone on our last international trip. We will likely lose the home we built decades ago. More losses will come. 

“Focus,” he says again. Not on what lies behind. Not on what defaults to the center of my attention. I ask him why I can’t set my focus on the image I have in mind. 

He smiles. “If you do that you won’t look at anything else in the big picture.” 

I get the shots of the primroses and rams. They are in focus, along with the boulders, logs and brush before them. Whatever lies behind them is blurred. 

“God,” I pray, “help me see the whole picture here and now—help me see the majesty of Your creation before me. Help me breathe it all in and delight in the beauty of the life You created for me to enjoy in this moment.” 

We unpack and load our cards into the card-reader. I see a heart now—a Valentine’s Day bouquet—from the Lover of my soul. It was there all along. But I see it now for the first time. ❤️