Kimberly Pepper Column: Open Your Heart to God’s Presence | News


The dawn of a new year and the end of the previous year are food for thought.

What ups, downs, joys, sorrows, celebrations and surprises have I experienced? What was I hoping to do, but didn’t quite do it? What am I looking forward to next year? What surprises are in store? How do I hope to feel this next time next year, thinking back to this year?

This practice is not just for transitioning into a new year. Any kind of life transition or life event causes us to look back on our lives and experience longing and longing, sadness and regret, gratitude and joy. Births, graduations, weddings, to-do list vacations mark the good times. Illnesses, unemployment, death, any struggle in body, mind and spirit, mark sad times. Sometimes we look back on the sad times and again see a grace we hadn’t seen before. We yearn for the days of yore. We eagerly anticipate the days to pass for an elevation in life circumstances. We look ahead and have ideas about how we want to spend our time in the coming year. We are waiting – test results, healing, an answer, peace of body, mind and spirit. We are waiting.

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Time has taken on a new form in the two years of this global pandemic. Two years, or in other words, 104 weeks, 728 days. We are talking about “pre-Covid” or “before it all started” time. We anticipate when this current way of life will no longer be, or at least not as intense as it is now.

The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first was chronos and refers to quantitative time – time that can be measured and defined. Seconds, minutes, hours, years are examples of chrono times. When we are told that we have to isolate ourselves for ten days, or that we will have the test results in a few days, which is chronos time.

The second word the ancient Greeks had for time was kairos. Where chronos time can be defined, kairos time, by its very nature, is difficult to define. It is in some ways easier to define what it is not than what it is. Kairos is time that cannot be measured and cannot be quantified. Kairos is more like a moment, the right moment, the perfect moment. Kairos is a qualitative time. One writer describes it as “the moment when the world breathes”.

Kairos takes on an even deeper meaning in Christian theology. Over 80 times in the New Testament, kairos is used for time. In the Gospel according to Saint Mark, Jesus proclaims “The time (kairos) is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”. Twice in the Gospel According to Saint John, Jesus says: “My time (kairos) has not yet come”. There is a sense of maturity in kairos time, which we see in this passage from Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a time for everything under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die ; a time to plant, and a time to uproot that which is planted.” In early Greek translations of this passage, whenever kairos is the word used for time, not chronos.

Kairos takes the form of God’s time. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Divine Liturgy begins with the deacon saying to the priest: “It is time (kairos) for the Lord to act. When we worship, when we pray, chronos time is overtaken by kairos time. God’s time comes in human time, and we breathe. Next time we hope a worship service ends before it kicks off or before the wait at our favorite restaurant gets too long, remember that in worship time stands still and we meet the ‘eternity.

Kairos also meets our chrono lives in mysterious, surprising and unexpected ways.

Sometimes kairos moments are so obvious we can see them clearly, and sometimes we have to dust off fingerprints or run through a period of chronos and then look back with kairos-colored glasses to see the graces that were hidden within. era.

Holding the hand of a loved one as the last breaths are taken, the peace that comes in the midst of trying circumstances, the hope that comes in the midst of despair, the healing that comes to us in body, mind and soul. mind in a way beyond what we hope or imagine, are all kairos moments.

A wise man told me recently that it takes time to understand our backgrounds. Yes, I thought, it takes time – months, years, decades – to understand our paths. It does. But it also takes kairos – ripe times, times when we see more fully and feel more deeply, times of revelation and clarity as we encounter the eternal – to appreciate the beauty of our journeys.

Perhaps one of the most difficult concepts of kairos is that we cannot create it. It is God’s work. We cannot bind kairos to times. To say “After dinner I’m going to experience kairos” is to miss the kairos boat. We can, however, make ourselves more open to kairos through prayer, meditation, stillness, and finding thin places where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and where we can still be in the presence of God. And in times of waiting for answers, waiting for healing, waiting for peace, waiting for we don’t know what — we can remember that God is with us in all of our lives and comes to us in kairos.

In this coming year, may we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts open to kairos, the presence of God with us, for all times, at all times, and through all times.

Kimberly Pepper is a board-certified chaplain at St. Peter’s Health.

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