Mark walks through the door and says, “There’s a visitor for you.” He raises an eyebrow and I glance at my old t-shirt and yoga pants, wondering who might soon witness them. But when I go outside I don’t see anyone. Then I look down and there, in a cardboard box, is a turtle the size of a dinner plate.
I laugh and Mark tells me how he found this wanderer. I lean in and offer a proper welcome, “Hello, Mr. Turtle.” He instinctively pulls inward and I raise him until I can look him right in his brown eyes, “It will be okay now,” I say. This is not the first turtle I’ve held. It’s more likely the hundredth, maybe even the thousandth.
I spent my childhood summers catching turtles out of a golfcourse pond with my best friend, temporarily bringing them home to a baby pool, then releasing them again. (I’m not advocating this as a modern hobby. But it was the eighties and we also drank out of water hoses, frequently rode in the car without seatbelts and ate cookie dough with raw eggs in it. So there you go.)
In this week’s More than Small Talk podcast with Suzie Eller, Jennifer Watson and I the confession question is, “What’s a moment you were fully present? Describe that to us.” When we recorded the episode I talked about turtle catching. And now I’m amused at God’s timing as I hold this turtle as a grown-up. Those childhood memories come back again–the sun on the water, the grass between my toes, the smell of summer, the distant sound of lawn mowers, the taste of watermelon when I got back home.
If you want a quick hack for being fully present it’s this:
Pause and notice all of your senses. Ask yourself…
What do I see?
What do I hear?
What do I smell?
What do I feel?
What do I taste?
Not only will this bring you into the present, research shows it will create a stronger memory.
I carry Mr. Turtle down to the fence surrounding the pond behind our house. I set him in the grass on the other side, pointing him toward the water. Then I let him go back to whatever turtles do.
I stand there for a moment, feeling grateful. I think again about how God said His name is “I am.” He’s not a past tense God. He’s not a future tense God. He’s a present tense God. And wherever I am right now, wherever you are, is the only place in all of history or this whole planet where God and us are at the very same time. That makes it holy ground.
So today let’s put down our phones and pick up the turtle or the toddler. Let’s turn away from the screen and toward the smiles of the people we love. Let’s set aside our lists and sit for a moment in the quiet so our souls can take a deep breath.
Let’s be fully present right here, right now, in this moment.
More Help Being Fully Present:
– Listen to Episode 28 of More Than Small Talk: How to Be Fully Present.
– Use my devotional Hope Your Heart Needs to start your day being fully present with God.