Monday, March 24, 2014

Chronos Versus Kairos

Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them.

The ancient Greeks had two words for time.  The first was chronos, which we still use in words like chronological and anachronism, and kairos was the other.  Chronos refers to clock time – time that can be measured – seconds, minutes, hours, years. 

Where chronos is quantitative and exact, kairos is qualitative and expansive. It measures moments, not seconds. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment; the perfect moment. The world takes a breath, and in the pause before it exhales, fates can be changed.

“The Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos.  Kairos is not measurable, it is ontological.  In kairos we are, we are fully in isness… fully, wholly, positively.  Kairos can sometimes enter, penetrate, break through kairos: the child at play, the painter at his easel, the saint at prayer, friends around the dinner table, a mother reaching out her arms for her newborn baby, are in kairos.”
~ Madeleine L’Engle – A Circle of Quiet
Chronological time does not allow us to get lost in the moment.  We are always aware of the clock and that time is moving on.  Our society is very chronos-oriented; we are overly scheduled, trying to cramp in more and more in a day, in a minute, etc.  Being so time-bound, we are victims of the clock.

 “and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…”
~ Ecclesiastes 3

Fortunately, we are discovering more and more the other aspect of time: kairos allows us to get lost in the moment, truly experiencing quality time over quantity. Kairos is expansive, full of possibility, and we can enjoy play, passion and the experience itself.  We can lose our self-consciousness, doubts and fears.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it being in the “flow.”  In that synchronicity we can experience a higher dimension or the spiritual reality and ultimately unite with our Creator, the Heavenly Parents.

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.
Henry van Dyke (1852-1933), American author, educator, and clergyman

I was inspired to write this article by reading a book "The Art of the Possible” by Alexandra Stoddard.  She writes therein about the path from perfectionism to balance and freedom.

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