The Moon and the Mind’s Eye


“A photograph is a secret about a secret.

The more it tells you, the less you know.”

Patricia Bosworth

One day last week when the moon was full, I rose at dawn and happened to glance out my bedside window. There, cradled in the bare branches of a hackberry tree, was the moon, big and round and bright. Of course, it was not really cradled by branches but was setting in the west even as the sun was rising in the east. But the moon looked for a moment as if it had been snagged in the branches, held so close that I could see its craters and “seas.” Awestruck by the beauty and wonder of the moment, I grabbed my camera and took several pictures as the moon slipped through the branches and sank beyond my view.


But when I looked at the photographs I had taken, I was disappointed. The moon showed up big and round and bright beyond the silhouette of branches, but its brightness had overwhelmed the craters. None of them were visible. I had to go back to my mind’s eye to see the image I had wanted to capture. But I did just that. I held the image in my mind, in my spirit, in my heart. I kept the moon, craters and all, framed in that window, in those branches, big and bright and round at dawn. I couldn’t share the photograph as I actually saw it, so I kept its full beauty as a gift presented only to me in the early hours of dawn.

Ours is a sharing society. With social media, it’s easy to instantly post thoughts and opinions, questions and advice, and photos of friends, families, and meals. (I did, in fact, post the photograph of the full moon that I took that morning – it’s the one you see above.) In fact, some of us were taught to share whatever we have, so there may be a feeling of obligation involved. In other words, we may feel that it’s not right to keep the joy of this moment to myself. But the full moon that morning taught me that some gifts of wonder are private.

Some moments are meant just for you, not to be shared but to be treasured in your heart as a secret gift. The scent of a hyacinth, the flavor of a berry, the call of a cardinal, the texture of a clean sheet, the sight of a dandelion growing in a crack in the sidewalk, a glistening raindrop on the knife-edge of a leaf, a heart-shaped shadow – something about it catches your attention for a second, enters your senses, and nourishes your spirit. No photograph required. No sharing necessary. It’s your treasure, meant to enrich your soul.

As I discovered with the full moon at dawn last week, we can frame moments like these and let that one sight or sound or scent feed our soul for the day. We can return to that moment, revive it, and rest in it when we’re starting to become stressed. We can pause for a moment and wonder again at the generosity of such a gift. And we can be grateful.

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Text and grass and moon photos © 2018 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Heart and blueberry photos courtesy

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