The Kairos in my week.

While it is still this week in chronos, I must tell about the several ways kairos has made its impression on my heart and mind.

Last Sunday when I was zooming with my friends up the Nevada highway to church, we passed a car whose license plate read “Kairos.” We knew that Greek word from its use at the beginning of Orthodox Divine Liturgy, when the Deacon proclaims, “It is time (kairos) for the Lord to act,” so it seemed to us a fundamentally theological word, and with the aid of my phone we researched and discussed the concept as we rolled along, and wondered if the vehicle belonged to someone we would be worshiping with in a few minutes.

gl iconostas crp P1110337

It was the Sunday of the Last Judgment, and in the homily our attention was directed to the icons on either side of the doors to the altar. On one side is the icon of The Incarnation, and on the other, of The Pantocrator, or Judge. Everything in between happens right here, Fr. Stephen said, in the Church, from the altar and in the Holy Mysteries, bringing heaven to earth and joining all who partake or have died in Christ. We had just an hour earlier read on Wikipedia that kairos refers to “a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.”

The meaning and reality of Time is a deep well into which I love to dip, with my mind, but it is a heady beverage and makes me dizzy. I didn’t do any further reading this week, as I plodded on through chronos — chronological time — and tried not to get behinder in it and in my housework and tax preparation and garden planning….

I plodded, because after my joyous interlude of a kind of kairos, about which I wrote in my last post, I returned to my house that still seems empty without my husband, to my responsibilities that continue to overwhelm me, to a future whose unknowns appear daunting, now that I have to meet them without my life’s companion. And in less than two weeks we will come to the one-year mark, of his death. Is there another kind of time that reflects what I feel, that it was only last month? Or that it is a perverse, somehow false, fact? I guess that would be called grief.Minarets Wild. 81

Yesterday I spent most of the day updating my screensaver, which right now is scrolling through a folder of photos named “Mr. Glad.” I had decided it didn’t have enough files in it, so I combed through all the other folders to find more images of him, and I was very nurtured by reviewing his life, and my life with him, in this visual way. We had over the last years scanned hundreds of pre-digital photos into the computer, so there he was as a little boy laughing on his father’s lap, bursting with the energy and zeal of youth at our wedding, cradling our newborn babies or reading to our little children; singing with his strong and beautiful voice in church, backpacking with his kids, giving me a kiss on the cheek while I was standing over the stove.

My housemate Kit had never met my husband, and she was glad to look through many of the pictures with me and hear some stories. It made me happy to collect my pictures, and even happier to have her to share them with. I went contentedly to bed and sleep last night.

Bill and Gretchen at lake, on dome

I hadn’t planned to attend Liturgy this morning, for the Commemoration of the Holy Monastic Saints. But I woke at 4:30, and after an hour passed and I couldn’t go back to sleep, I turned on the light and got up, and it seemed at the time that God had awakened me so that it would be easy and sensible to go to church. And there is nothing that makes me feel so needy for the Holy Mysteries as missing sleep!

(Which reminds me of how we moderns are so far removed from the sacredness of even chronos that we have to try to control it with our silly clock changes.)clock antique look

I went back to my rest and dreams after all, not before a good session of musing on how this month is likely to be harder than I expected. I woke at last in time to get to church, where I was surprised that in addition to the Holy Ascetics, we were remembering a beloved priest from San Francisco, who reposed ten years ago this day.

In his homily and other remarks, our rector brought up the reality of kairos, speaking of how in the church, in the Liturgy, we are joined together with everyone who has ever died in Christ. He said, “It is common to hear, ‘I have Christ in my heart,’ but we also can have a little of each other in our hearts, because we are brought into the Kingdom, in that moment of kairos.” It was what I needed to be reminded of this morning: not my loss, but the enduring nearness of my dear husband.

Now I want also to read more about this truth, this kairos that I experience. I imagine that Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s book The Eucharist will speak a good deal to the subject, and just this afternoon I ran across a pertinent article, on The Chalice of Eternity. It will be a good place for me to start. Here is a quote from what appears to be a thorough treatment of time in all its facets and forms:

In Christ, as the Lord of Time, is realized the ingathering of all moments in one moment of what we might call an ‘eternal temporality’ and which Schmemann calls temps immobile, that is, the co-inherence or co-presence of each part of time to each other in the present in Jesus Christ. Christ is Himself the Lord of Chronos or time proper because He is the Kyrios Kairou, Lord of the appointed time of our salvation. In Him, our broken mode of temporality, chronos, is renewed and sanctified, ascending with Him to the Father and becoming a spiritual mode of time through its marriage with creaturely eternity (aeon). But when He returns to us in His Body and Blood in the liturgy, which is both our ascent to God and His descent to us, we see that our new mode of time, eternal temporality, is something radically new to creation, sensible and spiritual at once, as it has partaken of the very mode of God Himself as everlasting Trinity (aidiotes), God before the ages.    -Dr. Brandon Gallaher

Tomorrow is the Sunday of Forgiveness, and The Casting out of Adam and Eve from Paradise. And then (for us Orthodox) Lent begins! May the everlasting Trinity use this blessed season to reveal to us Himself and all of His Truth, including the reality and fullness of kairos. Amen.

pantocrator dome in church



11 thoughts on “The Kairos in my week.

  1. I love thinking about Chronos and Kairos, which I think of as sacred time. In the last 20 years or so the retreats I have gone to usually have us surrender our wrist watches and cell phones – a sort of taking away of Chronos. I remember hearing, long ago in high school, that “now” is the only moment when time touches eternity…..

    The anniversary of Paul’s death, his birthday, and major holidays are always difficult times. I can be rather upset for a few weeks beforehand. I didn’t understand this at once, but now I do, though it is not as bad as it used to be. It’s a good time to do less and have less stress, if possible.

    When I read your husband’s obituary, I was surprised at how much he looked like Paul. Perhaps they were similar types, though not completely. Wasn’t your husband musical? Paul loved music, but gave up trying to play the guitar after failing to be able to tune his after two weeks of trying….

    May your Lent be truly and deeply blessed!
    May your heart be lit by Gladsome Light.

    (And just because laughter is supposed to be good for the soul, I have to share something funny. I have a friend whose Japanese husband owns a sushi restaurant. He left for work early a week or two ago, telling her that it was the season of lentils and many people would be coming for fish.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This spoke to me, thank you:

    “It is common to hear, ‘I have Christ in my heart,’ but we also can have a little of each other in our hearts, because we are brought into the Kingdom, in that moment of kairos.”

    You are an amazing woman, going onwards with an inspiring life. I love reading your blog, although I do not often comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still feel the emptiness of the house without my husband after almost 2-1/2 years. And I also grieve over leaving our little farm. But I know all of this is temporal and we’re headed toward eternity and a great reunion with all of those we love! I’m trying to learn to keep my thoughts turned toward God, to read and watch things that are uplifting, to pray for my precious family as we all travel this earthly road, and to somehow find the energy to rejoin my church family and find out what I can do to help there. After so many years of marriage, for both of us, it will take some time to reshape our lives. I want Jesus to be the center of my universe (as you do) and I work daily to overcome the distractions of this world and to see past the apparent mundaneness of most days. God bless you, sister. Keep running the race! Let’s try to finish well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Sunday of Forgiveness. This day started with an interesting sermon on forgiveness. Subsequently I have gone in and out of thoughts on the subject. The original question was, “Why must we ask for forgiveness if we are NT believers?”

    Receive Grace – Give Grace.

    It’s always a good day to scrutinize the ways Jesus responded to questions, especially from Peter! Lord, how many times should we forgive……..?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been praying for you as you approach this milestone. Just this morning you were on my heart, as I was awake very early, and the Lord brought you there. Grief is like that, you never know when it will sneak up and there you are and you must give way.

    I will continue to pray and think of you. I still think of the joy of your new grandson who will also be a year old. Blessing to you my dear friend. Here is a hug O

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “‘…we also can have a little of each other in our hearts, because we are brought into the Kingdom, in that moment of kairos.’ It was what I needed to be reminded of this morning: not my loss, but the enduring nearness of my dear husband.”

    It seems only right that his spirit is much a part of you too. What fun to share all those digital photos of Mr. Glad with a friend.

    Thinking of you, Gretchen.

    Liked by 1 person

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