Awakening to Kairos


Enjoy this guest post by Rachel Springer Gerberan ordained minister in the Mennonite Church USA and the proud mama of three boys.  Rachel currently serves as a denominational minister of youth and young adults; is an expert juggler of diapers, dishes, and dinosaurs; and writes beautiful words over at Everything Belongs.  

As if the shopping, decorating, and office parties aren’t enough, the holiday season is also often full of traveling.  I recently packed our bags for a fourteen-hour drive and five-day trip to visit family.  My three young boys, sensing the excitement and novelty of what was coming, were bouncing off the walls.  Figuratively and literally.  Trying to pack with excited boys is like herding cats.  It usually doesn’t take well.  They simply do not understand all there is to do before leaving home.  Please don’t throw, dump, unpack, spill, or crunch.  And wrestling, which usually ends with someone in tears, doesn’t add well to this mix either.  Throw in a husband who is doing another twenty-four-hour shift on call at work, and things can feel pretty distressing.

Deep breath.  Deep breath.  Chronos time ticks.

Chronos is the time that we live in.  It is the time that is told by the clock.  It’s the five minutes left in time-out.  It’s being stopped by another red light as you race to preschool to try not to be late again.  It’s holding your breath as you wait to check out at the grocery store while your squirrely boys try to rip down candy displays and whine at the top of their lungs about why they need M&Ms now.

Kairos, however, is God’s time.  It is time above time.  It is a time with no end, when you are able to momentarily stand still in the midst of the hubbub of life and see how things really are.  It is stepping back, even in the craziness of life, to take notice of the blessings in life.  To realize how God moves, how God provides, and how God simply is.

Like the season of Advent.

Advent is the intentional season of slowing down even in the midst of the consumeristic chaos.  It is pausing in order to allow the mystery of the season to swoon us again, to embrace the Love that longs to come and hold us tight.

The first miracle of the season (if only I lived on 34th Street), I finally got everything packed and loaded and then decided to head to Chick-fil-A for supper.  Get out of the house, keep my kitchen clean, give the kids a chance to blow off some steam in hopes of an extra-early bedtime.

Good plan?

Great plan.

Except there was a birthday party going on when we reach the restaurant.  As if my two little jumping beans aren’t enough, let’s welcome another eleven four-year-olds full of sugar to a crowded playland.

Serenity now.  Tick, tick, chronos.

As I sat, watching the chaos swirl in and around me, my thoughts drift back to a moment earlier in the day when my three-year old had been released from a timeout for dumping out his suitcase.  Again.  After his recompense, he crawled up on my lap and hugged me tightly around the neck.  Laying his head on my shoulder, he whispered in my ear, “Mom, I sorry.  I love you all the time.  All the time.”

And he stayed there, holding tight, neither of us letting go.  Kairos took over, and everything completely paused.  Instantly this moment reoriented my priorties and made me aware of my own haste.

Deep breath.  Inhale kairos.

Love holds.  Love whispers deep and long, cutting through the chaos and reminding me of what really matters in the holiday madness.

It is how we love, and who we hold onto.  All the time.

If I forget a toothbrush, it will not be the end of the world.  If I don’t have the vacuuming done and every stitch of laundry put away before we close up, life will go on.  In an instant, I am reminded by my pint-sized teacher of what really matters.  It’s not the schedule.  It’s not the deadline.  It’s not being overly organized and planning for any unexpected emergency.

It is about each other.

Kairos holds tight.

Pausing in this Kairos to embrace the reality of my life with kids enables me to remember what they truly are: blessings, not burdens.  And so there, on the sticky, sock-strewn rubber floor echoing with giggles and squeals, I smile.

And take a deep breath of greasy fried chicken air.

Dear God, help me to do the same in this season.  To not see the birthday of your son as a burden, but full of holy wonder of a love that comes and holds tight.

A big SALT thank you to Rachel for her sweet words that remind us to breath and to hold on tight!  We're are sooooo excited about her forthcoming book, "Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting."  This spiritual memoir on life with kids will be released by Herald Press this Spring - we can't wait.  Finally, thanks to Christina Rutz for sharing this glittery little doe...

AdventElizabeth MyerComment