By Rev. Greg Little
I am at a point in life when I take six pills each day – some are by prescription and some are vitamin supplements. Some time ago I decided to swallow – not one of the pills in this case – but my pride and admit that it would be easier to have one of those seven day containers for my pills as I didn’t always remember if I had taken my pills or not – perhaps there is a pill for that but it is not on my list of pills.
In any case I recharge the daily pill container on Fridays – nothing significant about the day but it is just when I do it. It used to be Thursdays but I forgot to take them one day a while ago so it became Friday proving even a good system is not foolproof.
Well, I am telling you this because I am always amazed when Friday rolls around and it is time to recharge the pill container. How could a week have gone by so quickly? A long, long, time ago in a land fairly far away when I was a child, a week seemed interminable. I remember saying to myself at one point, I hope the weekend would last forever so I wouldn’t have to go back to school – being the kind of child who seemed to be out of sync with school and never in the right place in my learning experience – but that is a story for another day. In any case the week at school did seem to last forever.
Time does seem to be very flexible and stretches out or shrink in my experience. I was at the Long-term care yesterday to do an Anglican worship service for the residents. Visitors have to have a COVID test which requires waiting for fifteen minutes to get the results. Another visitor remarked that this period was always the longest fifteen minutes of her life. I was going to mention that it didn’t seem as long as the two minutes of silence on Remembrance day which I used to have to count out when I presided at Remembrance Day Services. This, of course, has nothing to do with it not being significant – just the opposite. Every second of that silence holds deep significance. But I didn’t get the chance as the staff person gave us the all clear and I headed off to the gathering congregation. Time does seem to be flying by these days but it couldn’t be that I am getting old - can it?
Time flows on and there seems to be no stopping it. As the Joni Mitchell song says, “it won't be long now, till you drag your feet to slow the circles down.”
When we move into timelessness and eternity we are moving from our time to God’s time. Some time ago, I listened to recordings of Northrop Frye’s lectures on the Bible and Literature https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Swyk_ZRy8. He notes that the creation story in Genesis did not happen in linear time, it happens in God's time. In effect, it is a timeless event which is happening all the time.
As Frye notes, the Bible speaks of time in two different ways; time is either Kairos or Chronos. Simply put, Chronos is measurable time which has a beginning and an end. Kairos, on the other hand, means an opportune time, a moment or a season such as harvest time. St. Paul uses Kairos in the passage from Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”
If you have ever been caught in a moment when time seemed to stop or disappear, you have moved from Chronos to Kairos. We need to be aware of when we want things to happen on our schedule, in Chronos and become aware that they sometimes happen in Kairos. It is a reminder that as much as we like to believe it, we don’t often set the agenda. That can be frustrating, but it can also be liberating.
May you be blessed on your journey to experience it In Kairos and well as Chronos.
Rev. Greg Little is the Honorary Assistant at St. James, Parkhill and St. John the Evangelist, Strathroy.