29 May 2008

Chronos versus Kairos

In graduate school, I had a professor who often referred to literary references in novels in relationship to kairos versus chronos. Kairos time, he explained, meant 'in the time of angels.'

It was a difficult concept for me to grasp at the time because when I was working on stories, it was easy to think there was a beginning, middle and end. Time moved forward. But the more I wrote, the less time began to move in a forward direction.

While chronos is described as quantitative, kairos is described as qualitative.

My life used to be easily divided into segments of time: before I got married, after I got married, as soon as we have children, when we adopt a dog, 10 years into marriage, etc.

And then Grace happened and time as I've always known it, twisted and turned upside down. Time was no longer linear; time was no longer slow or fast, time became kairos, time became qualitative and I still find myself struggling to define time. When I tell a story, I often confuse the time period, I can't recall how long it's been since I've been on an airplane, or how long it's been since my last period. But I can tell you how long I have been without Grace and how long I have been with Carver, with Sophia, with Sawyer. I can tell you that Sawyer is 2, but really hasn't he been here my whole life? Haven't I always known he was going to come be with us. And it is in this time that I now live, with the angels, among the angels and because of the angels.

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