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  • Writer's pictureLaura Roeven

Don't Forget to Dance

The Greeks viewed time in two ways, Kronos: a time of getting things done with calendars and schedules and Kairos: a time of children, festivals, nature. One is linear and one is circular. This sparked something within me to learn more and I discovered a wonderful story…

“When we get lost in time, there is actually no loss at all; as parts of us are found, it becomes an expansive experience.” —Marney Makridakis author of Creating Time: Using Creativity to Reinvent the Clock and Reclaim Your Life

Kronos Time and Kairos Time

"Kronos is sequential time. Kronos is the time of clocks and calendars; it can be quantified and measured. Kronos is linear, moving inexorably out of the determinate past toward the determined future, and has no freedom. Kairos is numinous time. Kairos is a time of festivals and fantasies; it cannot be controlled or possessed. Kairos is circular, dancing back and forth, here and there, without beginning or ending, and knows no boundaries.” — Lonnie Kliever, retired Professor of Religious Studies as SMU

Finally, an explanation for how time seems to shift, pinch or dance! My whole life, I have tried to bring more Kairos time into my Kronos day and I’ve always wondered why they are so different. Some days, the schedule is filled to the max and I feel like I am dancing through it. Other days, the schedule feels like it rules me with an iron fist. Finally, I can see this wonderful illustration of the variations. I need both: to have a schedule to order my days and to have the mystery, awe, and awareness of the richness in the moment. For me, to be in balance is to feel spacious as well as meet deadlines. This New Year, I am going to use the imagery of Kronos and Kairos to adjust my course.

Kliever explains how to navigate this: "Drawing on these ancient mythic images, we can revisit the two kinds of time with deeper understanding. Kronos is mechanistic and deterministic, time that is ruled by the dead hand of the past. Kronos devours us with remorseless certainty. Kronos turns life into stone. Kairos is creative and serendipitous. Kairos is time that is energized by the living dream of the future and presents us with unlimited possibility. Kairos turns fate into destiny. We are not helpless to tip the balance in the direction of kairos over kronos. We can temper our fear and our fixation on sequential time. We can deepen our quest and our experiences of numinous time. In such synchronicity of kronos and kairos lies our deepest consolation and our steepest aspiration."

There it is…I am in charge of the pace I want to keep. It is up to me to control the outside demands of schedules and time keeping. I can run from one thing to the next being ruled by linear time, or I can weave my day of connection together by awareness, spirit, love, and light. Do I want to create or produce? Am I meeting a person or arriving at an appointment? When I feel ruled by time, the past breaths down my neck. Gremlin thoughts of, “Are you going to make it?” or “Is this going to fail?” describes the “dead hand of the past”. There is a devouring of the spirit when ruled by agenda and calendar. Living is not time slots but rather experiencing the wholeness of the moment. Kairos offers the focus to be on love in gift form, a hand extended to dance what is happening right now.

So, in this passing of the old year into the new…How are you balancing Kronos and Kairos time? My 2021 goal is to invite Kairos Time to dance with me in my precious days. Kronos will always be there pointing at his watch, exacerbated by the extra moment to connect or the frivolity of caring and sharing with others. Keep frowning at the silly joy, Kronos, my dance with Kairos continues!

Happy New Year,


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