Saturday, March 31, 2007



The English language uses the word "time" in two different ways. The first way might be something like: "What time did you get home last night?" Or, "What was your time for your last marathon?" The second way looks like this: "Did you have a good time?" Or, "Do you remember the time when we went to the lake?"

The Greeks used two words for our one word: "time." The first is chronos. Chronos means time on the move, time as before and after, time as the future passing through the present and so becoming the past. From this Greek word chronos we derive such English terms as chronic, chronicle, and chronology. Thus, we call an illness chronic if it lasts a long time. A chronicle is an account of events through a sequence of time. Chronology is the itemized, studied measurement of time.

The second Greek word for time is kairos. In addition to chronos, the Greeks also spoke of time as a moment, time as occasion, time as qualitative rather than quantitative, time as significant rather than dimensional.

Kairos isn't measurable. We don't ask someone, for example, "How much Christmas did you have?" We inquire, rather, "what sort of Christmas did you have?" The reason that kairos cannot be measured is because it is always a now. A now is obviously indivisible; an instant is, so to speak, too brief to account for. By the time you stop to measure a now, it is already gone. Now is punctuated by a swift, indecipherable passage from this to that. Furthermore, if now cannot be measured, it can also not be counted. It is futile, for example, and probably a threat to sanity, to ask how many nows there are in an hour.

For the most part, I am a kairos runner. Yes, I own a Garmin 305, the world's most advanced chronograph. But, if you were to ask me how yesterday's run went, I would be far more likely to tell you about how I joked around with my friends than my total time or my average pace. It is more interesting to look at creation, enjoy the silence, and interact with people than it is to be driven by a watch.

What are you driven by? Not in running, but in life. Chronos is necessary. Knowing the time of day is a necessity to live in our culture. But more to life exists than just chronos. Hopefully moments exist in life that can't be measured. They are gifts from God. Somehow I think we may be missing the kairos because of our obsession with the chronos.

Today was one of those days for me. I was busy moving from appointment to appointment -- task to task. Constantly looking at my watch and checking things off my to-do list.

I had too much stuff filling up my chronos to enjoy any meaningful kairos. I'll do better tomorrow.

No run today. Read the above paragraph.

Amber got this picture of David sucking his thumb for the first time during one of her kairos moments.

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