As Christians, we’re given an alternative way to think about how we inhabit time. There are two kinds of time in the New Testament Greek. Chronos is time as we typically understand it, time as duration: this happens, then this, then this. But there is another kind of time called kairos, and this refers to what Benedictine mystic Fr. Richard Rohr calls Deep Time. Kairos, or Deep Time, means the fullness of time, those “moments” where everything clicks, where past and present merge into a beautiful moment of clarity and fullness. It’s when we realize that no matter what happens in chronos time, we inhabit a life that is already full, here and now.
In an interview on the podcast On Being, Rohr describes, “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. Because what you’ve learned, especially by my age, is that all of it passes away. The things that you’re so impassioned about when you’re 22 or 42 don’t even mean anything anymore, and yet, you got so angry about it or so invested in it. So, this word “contemplation,” it’s a different form of consciousness. It’s a different form of time.”
This is the sort of time that Christians are invited to live in. It’s an invitation to consider what is truly important in the scope of the eternal now. It isn’t easy, but it is real, and it is true. And it is deeply relevant to my own life in the face of a big transition.
Long story short, I am about to commit to a flight training program in Salt Lake City with the goal of becoming a commercial pilot. This is a path that will put me significantly into debt and pinhole me into a very specific career path that, given what I originally thought I’d be doing with my life, is admittedly a bit off the wall.
These kinds of new beginnings are supposed to be exciting. That’s what I was hoping for, at least. Instead, it’s as if every step or hurdle, big or small, has been a jab straight in the ribcage of every insecurity I never knew I had.
I’ve been bombarded by the anxieties inherent to chronos time. Questions like: Do I have what it takes to make it through the training? Will I have enough money to live off while in school? Will I even like doing this? Will I find a job quickly enough to start making loan payments after the training? Will my car stay in working order the whole time? Is there something else I should be doing? Is this path even the best way to use my time and talents? Am I pursuing a life faithful to the Gospel or am I running away from it? What is my life, and what shall it be?
I am confronted, now, to make a choice about what is really real about the nature of life and my time here in it. I feel myself being invited by the holy spirit to consider the anxieties of this transition from the perspective of Deep Time.
Twenty, forty, or sixty years from now, will I even remember what seems right now to be so important and crushing? I doubt it. I think about the kinds of things I worried about even five years ago, and it makes me laugh now. I can only imagine what even twenty years will do to this kind of retroactive perspective on the important things in life.
What truly matters? What will I think about this time of transition when I am on my deathbed?
This is what I will remember, and I say this with the kind of confidence that communion with Deep Time affords me. I will remember whether or not I chose to treat each day as if it was a mysterious and precious gift from God. I will remember if I chose to be present to my life’s full and present value, and if I chose to be a witness to this fullness in others. Regardless of what I do for my life’s work, or whether I am able to pay off the loans, or whether my car keeps working; regardless of all future pain and anxiety or relief and joy, I will remember that right now, in this moment of Deep Time which contains all moments, that Christ’s reign is here and I am invited into the heart of it all.
This is the kind of excitement that I was hoping for, but didn’t even know I wanted. This is Deep Time.
(Quote from Fr. Richard Rohr came from: https://onbeing.org/programs/richard-rohr-living-in-deep-time-apr2017/)