So what time is it?
I know if I ask this question most of you will check your cell phones, a few your wrist watches (remember those things that fit on your wrist?), and some the clocks in your room, which I just did.
Clock time, or chronos, is how most of measure the passage of time. It’s how we measure what we think time is–the passing of seconds, minutes and hours. We think time passes. But we also know time is relative to the one perceiving it. If you doubt this, put your hand on a hot stove and see how long you can keep it there. Then get lost listening to music and see how long it seems to last.
We also know that time can be illusionary. What is the present? Is it before you read the question, during the time you read it, or after you read it? You would need to stop time in its passing to know what it is precisely the present moment. There are some who conclude that past, present and future are human inventions. There is only the now.
But there’s a different understanding of time I find important to understand. The Greek word is Kairos, which roughly translated means the right time or the deepest time or time out of clock time.
This morning I looked out my back window and this is what I saw:
I stopped to stare and lost track of time. And when I reflected about what had happened, I realized that the scene seemed frozen in time, a quality not a quantity. It was Kairos. Of course, as I continued to gaze, I saw leaves falling, the sky grey–the seasons measuring the passage of time from fall to winter.
Most of us spend most of our time measuring our lives by the clock. That offers a certain ritual to our life journeys. But from time to time we should pay attention to those special times when we are lost in wonder and awe and time itself seems gone. Some call this “eternity,” others “the eternal now,” others a glimpse in deeper realities beyond clocks.
Can you think of a Kairos moment in your life? Most people can if they to think. Women with children usually mention the birth of a child; men an achievement in their careers.
You have to stay awake every day to become aware of Kairos moments. But they are there. We only need to be attentive.
What if those moments in time but out of time when you stop thinking long enough to see the golden tree are hints of something far deeper than clock time but signs of life in which there is no past, present, or future?
As I was once taught when a a very young child I can now advise myself once again: Before crossing a street or a life journey, stop, look, and listen.