"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Moment

The happy warbling of goldfinches as they hopped from sweet gum to feeders brought me out of my book and back into the sunny fall afternoon. Bundled against the distinct bite of air already owned by winter, I was surprised to hear such a summer sound. When I looked up, I could see the finches only after a search. Their distinctive golden breeding plumage was replaced weeks ago by drabness meant to camouflage as they travel to warmer climes.

As I watched them feed, only a half dozen or so, and listened to their musical chortles and murmurs, I realized I hadn't seen our grosbeaks for a very long time. And I couldn't remember when I'd last been aware of their presence. They were with us all summer, mixed in with the finches and jays and chickadees and nuthatches and doves and sparrows. I marveled every day at the simple beauty of the particular arrangement of their orange and black and white. Their tails spread in flight reminded me of the flared skirts of Flamenco dancers. The fledglings, and there were so many this year, made me laugh in wonder and amusement as they learned to fly and feed themselves. 

How does that happen? One day life is a certain way, nicely drawn in reliable lines of comfortable familiarity, colored in a reassuring rainbow of the season. I savor and observe and immerse myself in the magic of everyday. And still one afternoon I realize I've missed an important shift.  

I used to comfort myself with the belief that there was always next year. If I didn't take the time to appreciate the wealth of finches so thick they dripped from the feeding tube like molten gold, there would be another time. But over the years I've begun to  realize the danger in that thinking. After several summers of finches so abundant we couldn't keep the feeders filled, the last couple have given us only a couple dozen.

This year the abundance came in the form of grosbeaks and jays. Next year - well there's no way to know or predict. And not only about the rhythm of the birds. 

I don't mind the changing of the seasons. I don't mind getting older. I do mind how much faster the whole process seems to be with each successive year. Just when I finally understand how important each moment is and how I can't count on a second moment to absorb what the first has to offer, time has seemed to accelerate. 

On another day recently, a very different warble brought me out of my chair and into the yard, my eyes searching the sky before I was even completely on my feet. Sounding for all the world like someone whistling their dog home, with a plaintive and urgent quality, I recognized the voice as that of a raptor. What I saw was a bald eagle, mature female judging from size and color, leading two other eagles across the sky. They were smaller, their plumage just beginning to show the distinctive white. All three were close enough and low enough for a time I could tell the whistle came from the bigger bird. 

I stood, watched, listened. I opened up every part of me to absorb as much as possible, not entirely certain what I was seeing, but knowing without doubt this viewing was a once in a lifetime event. The trio wheeled and soared its way across the sky until all that was left was the faint chuckle of the bigger bird's call. Finally the empty sky and stillness released me to ponder the message, which eluded me until now. 

Without exception, whenever a bald eagle is present, I am the most fully present I'm capable of being. Every moment they're available to my awareness is complete and focused. The result is that I am full of eagle moments. Vivid pictures with sound, scent and color that are as much a part of me as my eyes.

And that's the answer. Full presence without worry about what's being missed. Each moment absorbed and completely lived becomes a part of me, regardless of the speed of its passing. Each moment intentionally embraced slows just long enough to be captured.

No moment claimed is ever lost. Every new moment offers itself as a gift. We have the power to live those gifts - starting with this single moment.


Gail said...

Beautifully written and so true!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Deb - leaving on Wednesday! I'll be in touch once I am settled in! -- :-)

Wanda said...

Love eagles.

Anonymous said...

"Full presence without worry about what's being missed."
That's the challenge for me. Good lesson.

kario said...

Perfect! You're right - the eagles have such a powerful presence and a distinct call that they snap my attention right to them and seem to stop time. Magical.

Janna Qualman said...

Full presence, claimed moments. Love this!

Linda Hoye said...

Ah...to be fully present..what a gift it is in that moment. Loved this post; it's so "me" right now too.

Anonymous said...

The eagles sound amazing. Being fully present, that's the trick isn't it?

Wanda..... said...

Your post expresses so well the feelings we all experience at one time or another and hopefully we learn to focus on what is 'Now'...I remember my first moment of knowing to focus and take it all in. It was through my kitchen window, 32 years ago, I saw my son kneeling in sunlight and he was so focused on a spider and it's web under an apple tree, I vowed to remember it for always and have. Such a simple happening made me become more aware.

Your posts are always so uplifting, Deb!

Jerri said...

"I am full of eagle moments."

Yes, you are. Full. Of eagle moments and all manner of magic, which you share so beautifully with those of us lucky enough to read your work.

M said...

I love this...because there is so much truth. For myself, it's easy to fall into the pattern of thinking that there is always next time. And it is so easy to focus on things that we miss and blame on "time moving too fast", when in fact we missed it because we didn't focus on it. We didn't elevate it to the same level of importance as other things.

As always, your writing teaches a lesson that is powerful through your own experiences. Thank you.


Kathryn Grace said...

As so often with your stories, I find myself exhaling deeply, pent-up breath, so caught am I in the vision and in the meaning drawn from the vision. Rare occurrence indeed! An eagle without the word "lone" attached. Family. You are blessed with a plethora of power animals, and in showing them so vividly, bless us as well. Thank you.

Carrie Link said...

I love your relationships with birds and nature and what they teach you, and then in turn, what you teach us.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I've done the opposite--managed to freak myself out that I didn't truly appreciate the moments that would pass (like being surrounded by nature) and would regret it during winter!

I really try to attain full presence. Probably the last time for me was on vacation in Florida this summer. It's been too long!

Nancy said...

This resonated deeply with me and came at the perfect moment. I feel as though I am missing not only the transition of seasons, but of entire seasons themselves. Just today as I scurried around the state doing my job, I pulled my car over to breathe in autumn and soak in the colors. This post was waiting for me on my return and as always, your wisdom and beautifully crafted images pulled me into balance. Thank you.

Terri Tiffany said...

Full presence without worry about what's being missed.

I'm not there yet--still hung up on how fast the time goes as I age. I wish I were there.

Barb said...

Hi Deb,Time goes by so quickly but each moment we can truly be alert to Life's possibilities, we receive unimaginable gifts. The trick is to stay in the moment, which isn't easy! A lovely piece of writing - I can almost hear your eagle.

Laura said...

hand on heart gently circling, caressing, appreciating fully the magnificence of your realization about presence.

gentle steps

fullsoulahead.com said...



Amber said...

" Each moment absorbed and completely lived becomes a part of me, regardless of the speed of its passing. "--

I love this. I have been paying extra attention to my 'little eagles', otherwise known as kids. watching them fly and just be beautiful...being absorbed in the moment.