Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Living beyond the ribbon of time

The redhead's recent post has me thinking about time.  Life has been good around our home but death has crept into the corners through the television updates on the passing of numerous celebrities, through the one-year anniversary of my father-in-law's passing, and through the recent death of an old acquaintance, a young thirty-something father of two who's body gave way to a long battle with stomach cancer.

Time passes so quickly.  News of death and loss makes me want to do everything I can to live in the present as fully as possible, not hindered by past mistakes, missed opportunities, or wounds, not distracted by anxious concern over what may or may not happen in the future.  The past is gone and the future doesn't exist yet.  All we have is "the now."

The ancient Greeks had two words for time:  chronos and kairos.  Chronos corresponds to the English word for time.  It has do to with measured time:  hours, minutes, and seconds.  It is represented by clocks and calenders, daytimers and blackberries.  It's all about productivity, efficiency, and punctuality.  Kairos is different.  It has to do with important events, timeless moments, glimpses of transcendence, and heart stopping encounters.  

One writer describes it this way:  "We exist in chronos, we long for kairos.  Chronos requires speed so life is not wasted; kairos requires patience so that life can be enjoyed.  Chronos drives us forward to get things done; kairos allows us to relish the opportunity to do them.  We perform in chronos, but we truly live in kairos." (Gerald Sitser, The Will of God as a Way of Life).

There are moments where we do have to focus on productivity and efficiency.  And there are times when we have to hurry.  But life is lived best from kairos, not chronos.  If we're not careful chronos can enslave us to a barren busyness that drains us of the passion and wonder of life.  Moreover, it deafens our ears to the voice of God who calls to us in kairos moments where heaven and earth intersect.

Life is lived best when we slow down enough to pay attention and enjoy the ordinary kairos moments:  things like laughter with friends, a good meal, throwing the best of ourselves into our jobs with passion, catching a great wave on a surfboard, receiving the bread and wine at the communion table, and unhurried time with our spouse.  

Life is lived best when we make it an art.  Life is lived best when we ignore the busyness, the push and pull of life, and we stop to enjoy the present.  Life is at its best when we live beyond the ribbon of time and the tick tick tick of the clock.


J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I don't think I could possibly agree more. Very well said.

Amanda said...

Brian- well said. The living of it is always the hardest part

David Brown

Meribeth said...

Love it and so true! Missing you and your redhead!