a reading for ordinary time.

Kairos. Real time. God’s time. That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unself-conscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we’re constantly checking our watches for chronological time. The saint in contemplation, lost (discovered) to self in the mind of God is in kairos. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside himself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation. This calling should not be limited to artists–or saints–but it is a fearful calling. Mana, taboo. It can destroy as well as bring into being.

In Our Town, after Emily has died in childbirth, Thornton Wilder has her ask the Stage Manager if she can return home to relive just one day. Reluctantly he allows her to do so. And she is torn by the beauty of the ordinary and by our lack of awareness of it. She cries out to her mother, “Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me . . . it goes so fast we don’t have time to look at one another.” And she goes back to the graveyard and the quiet company of the others lying there, and she asks the Stage Manager “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” And he sighs and says, “No. The saints and poets, maybe. They do some.”

-Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

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