Kairos

One of the podcasts I listen to is “On Being with Krista Tippett”–I strongly suggest it.  Recently, I heard her interview Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Priest, teacher and writer and he said a lot of things in this interview that I want to share with y’all.  Now when I say a lot, I mean A LOT so my next few blogs will be leaning on a lot what Rohr said in this interview.  In this first post, I’ll be focusing on some ideas he expressed in ways I had never thought of before.

Richard Rohr is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM.  I was introduced to the act of Contemplation last year in DC by Rev. Roger Gench, the Head Pastor at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.  The act of contemplative prayer was something that played a big role in my life for a few months.  Contemplative prayer as I learned it was a practice similar to meditation.  The act of reflecting inwardly on yourself and your actions as a way of finding clarity.  Since then I’ve gotten out of the habit but I still fall back on this practice every now and again.  One thing I loved about practicing contemplation is summed up by Rohr when he says, “the word ‘prayer,’ can be so trivialized, so cheapened by misuse. Prayer was sort of a functional thing you do to make announcements to God or tell God things, which God already knew, of course.”  Prayer isn’t something I’m good at.  Unless it’s in a group, it very often feels detached and predictable to me. Whereas contemplation was more the act of trying to live in a place when time comes to it’s fullness.  

Rohr says that there are two words for “time” in the New Testament.  The first is chronos referring to chronological time, and the other is kairos which in Greek means “deep time.”  Rohr interprets kairos as, “those moments where you go oh my God, this is it. Those moments where you get it, it doesn’t get any better than this, this moment is summing up the last few years of my life, where time comes to a fullness and where dots connect.”  Rohr says that’s what the tradition means by the word “contemplation,” that to be a contemplative is to learn to trust deep time and to learn how to rest there and not be wrapped up in chronological time.

Over the past two years I’ve had many of the kairos-like moments of clarity.  A few that come to mind are things like experiencing Crater Lake on my drive from Portland to Tucson the summer before my first YAV year started, being annoyed by DC tourists during Cherry Blossom season and realizing that if I’m a beloved child of God so is everyone else no matter how improbable that may seem, my last worship service at Pilgrims, the last worship service at the Transition retreat this summer, walking in the Women’s march on Washington in January.

There is actually another kairos in my life, one that I interact with every day at work.  12 Baskets operates in Kairos West Community Center which is a ministry of All Souls Episcopal Cathedral.  Nearly every day of my time spent in Asheville I have existed in a place that is named after this concept of “deep time.”  During my time working with 12 Baskets I have been trying to create moments of kairos in other people’s lives.  Moments of humanity, friendship, safety or even just rest.  I have found some of my moments of clarity in those places and I hope to allow others to find there kairos moments there as well.  

Despite my efforts, these moments of clarity and coming together don’t always come in a prettily wrapped box that I can easily point to and say “here it is!”  This past Sunday at Grace Covenant (the church I’ve been going to) Rev. Marcia Mount-Shoop preached about the church’s exploration into becoming a Sanctuary Church.  Marcia was saying how a lot of us just want the easy yes or no solutions in our life.  But she told the congregation, maybe the path God is trying to lead us down is one of discernment, processing and sitting with the uncomfortable.  During my time as a YAV it has become abundantly clear that in my life, this is where God grants me moments of clarity.  I have been uncomfortable through simple living and intentional community and often times at my work placement.  And as for discernment and processing? Girl Please!  That is what my YAV life has been all about!  

Now I’m gonna try to take the pressure off of trying to find these kairos moments or moments of clarity in our lives.  I heard a Joseph Campbell quote on this same podcast that really stuck with me.  It comes from his book where he talks about the archetypes of heroes in mythology.  In this quote, I hear him saying, just trust the journey.  This path has been trod before, and it will be worth your while.  Which at this point in my YAV journey is just what I need to hear:

“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Speaking of heroes, since I wrote my last blog the world has lost a significant hero.  The former head pastor of Church of the Pilgrims, my friend and teacher, Jeff Krehbiel passed away a little more than two weeks ago after his battle with pancreatic cancer.  A man of few words but tremendous wisdom, I learned so much from Jeff in the year that I knew him.  From community organizing, to worship planning, to faith formation and how to write a sermon, to his knowledge from things like beer to church history and everything in between.  He knew so well how to challenge me and support me at the same time.  The impact that Jeff had on this world is truly immeasurable.  I’m so grateful to have known Jeff as long as I did and my love and prayers continue to go out to his family.

Here is a beautiful remembrance of Jeff with a clip of another thing he taught me, biblical storytelling.

Grace and Peace Y’all

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