Kairos: An Ancient Clock


Tonight feels magical. Writing and creating feel magical – like time stops and I’m sitting with God and we are talking about life and all of its mysteries. My 8 year old self is also here. And also who I imagine my 70 year old self to be – wise and ripened.

If writing were a mysterious creature that you could view at the cellular level, that is what I think you’d see. You would look into the microscope and see me + me (minus 16 years) + me (plus 44 years) + God working life out over a cup of tea. And time would stand still.

I think that’s what the ancient Greeks meant by kairos, a word for time. Not the same as chronos, which refers to chronological time, unstoppable time that passes uniformly every day. Kairos refers to seasons, to a defined and limited period of time, to the right time. My favorite translation is kairos as the opportune or seasonable time. Things are growing. Things are fading. Things are ripe. It can be all of these or none of these, but whatever it is, it’s precious.

When I think of season of time, or kairos, I think of fluidity in our lives. Also of being present. Moving from one place, reflecting on where we came from, anticipating what’s next. But still aborbing our current surroundings.

It is the life of creativity and art. No surprise that the Creator built the creative mind as such.

To put this mind frame into perspective, Henri Nouwen describes kairos as “the opportunity to claim for ourselves the love that God offers us from eternity to eternity.

God intended more for us than just the rat race of Western culture. He intended full, blossoming life in all the spectrums of joy, sorrow, excitement, learning, and yearning. 

Kairos means the opportunity. It is the right time, the real moment, the chance of our life. When our time becomes kairos, it opens up endless new possibilities and offers us a constant opportunity for a change of heart.

Henri, you are a man after my own heart!

I now find myself exploring these kairos with my whole being. Kairos is not just about time, but about heart posture, about mind-stretching growth. It takes time, energy, thought, feeling – anything worth exploring does.

Tangibly this has leaked and bled creative exploration in my life:

  • Finding teachers who interest me and seeking to understand their philosophies, their lifestyles, their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Laughing more – listening to comedians, especially alone, so that I can laugh uncensored and without judgement (as my humor can be rudimentary more often than not).
  • Writing things on Post Its – anything and everything you can imagine! Quotes that speak to me, titles of books and authors to later read. It’s like looking for a yellow VW bug on the street; once you’ve determined to take note of the things that speak to your heart, they are everywhere. Like serendipity.
  • Pursuing deep breathing techniques and dipping my toes in meditation. Ok, so I’ve gone hippy on you. But personally, I can’t create without turning down the static and cultivating my thoughts in solitude. Plus the anti-anxiety effects have changed my daily methods of handling stress.
  • Letting myself get excited about an idea, bookmarking it, and finding juicy time to come back to it later. This is about letting my thoughts expand wide and far, then drawing in the focus again, this time with more clarity.

I explore the ideas of self, the ideas of others, the ideas of God, and then draw a map to see where they intersect. Not focusing on the end product, but being present for the journey of learning and forming and writing. This is my kairos right now, and it’s a wellspring.


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| another great tool: Logos |