Living in the Present Moment with the Help of a Bird Feather


I have long been in pursuit of the romantic ideal of living in the present moment. It sounds so idyllic, doesn’t it?  Surrendering all past struggles, letting go of all future uncertainties and – aaaah – just floating in a meandering stream of time.  My lived experience of time, especially the present moment, however, is that it is really just a whoosh and a waterfall between getting out of and back into my pajamas!

You see, I am an incredibly intentional, Type A personality. I love systems, plans, big pictures and implementing all of the above. And to such a personality, living in the moment feels indulgent and maybe even a bit lazy when compared to crossing something else off the to-do list. So, as hard as I have tried to make this present-time living something I can accomplish or get done, I’ve discovered that it’s not really an ideal that anyone can force, marshal into existence, or demand to happen on cue. Why not?

HBratton Feather Bouquet sized 2

Copyright 2016 Heidi Bratton. All rights reserved.

In part I think it is because living in the moment is like seeing a rainbow. The joy is in the unpredictability. There is something about both that catch you unaware and (surprise!) you find yourself unexpectedly willing to drop everything and just stand in awe. In awe of the smell of a newborn baby. In awe of a flash of a colorful feather in the grass. In awe of that man who just yesterday was on his knee with a ring for you, and is now on his knees scrubbing the bathroom floor for you.

It seems that, as it is with other wonder-inducing experiences, living in the moment is no more and no less than allowing ourselves to be swept off our feet by Our Father in Heaven who has planned wonders for us, stopping to glory at this one, present-time wonder, and surrendering to the impulse to empty our hearts in thanksgiving for such a wonder as this one.

Some people are capable of living this awe, this wonder, this present moment by their very nature. Being a hopeless Type A, however, I have come up with a back-door plan to help me achieve this romantic ideal. That plan is to be a hunter of just one wonder at a time and to let that one wonder be a catalyst to living in the moment.

My current plan for wonder hunting is quite simple and a tad bit whimsical. It is to collect as many bird feathers as possible from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

HBratton Feathers 4-3

Copyright 2016 Heidi Bratton. All rights reserved.

I can’t really recall why I chose bird feathers, but the key to the success of my plan has been to choose something to collect that cannot be bought in a store or that I cannot in any way demand into existence–such as, but not limited to, beautiful wildflowers or striped rocks or rainbow sightings or yellow car sightings. The beautiful thing is that since I have been collecting feathers, I have found that it becomes quite natural to notice, pause, glory in, and give thanks to God for the countless other wonders he sends my way, too.

This is all a bit whimsical and esoteric, I know, but if you’re a Type A personality like me and have been uselessly striving after the ability to live in the present moment, well, there are a few weeks of summer still left. Don’t let that precious time be just a whoosh and a waterfall between packing up last year’s and buying this year’s school supplies. Choose to float at least a little in the stream of time by choosing to collect one specific wonder of God’s before the fall schedules cement around you. Ask yourself, “What wonder could I collect in these next few weeks that would give me reason to pause, to stand in awe, and to give heartfelt thanks to God, in other words, to live in the moment?”

Copyright 2016 Heidi Bratton


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