Chronos and kairos

By Dave Henning / July 6, 2013

“Time is not our enemy, nor is it a hostile place from which we must flee.  It is a meeting place, a point of rendezvous with God.”- Dorothy Bass, Receiving the Day

At the beginning of Chapter 1 (“Paying Attention: The Hours of Our Lives”) of The Attentive Life, Leighton Ford describes St. Benedict’s “rule of life”, stating that the Rule could be summed up in three words: “Pray and work.”  The hours in the Benedictine Rule were not a ritual to be mechanically observed, but an attentive path leading to a new vision.  As Benedict said at the start of the Rule: “Let us open our eyes.”

According to David Steindl-Rast, the Greek word hora originally meant a soul measure, not a numerical measure of time.  Thus, the author notes, the most vital way to measure our lives is not chronologically (chronos), but in terms of opportune times (kairos) that become turning points in our lives.  Mr. Ford thinks of the attentive life as the contemplative life, where we connect the dots between the chronos and kairos of our lives.  He adds:

” . . . observing the hours has become less a discipline to keep and more a reminder of God’s presence in whatever I am doing and wherever I am.”

Today’s question: Have you ever tried observing the “hours” of prayer?  Please share your experience.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Pay attention!”

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Dave Henning

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