How often do you reflect upon Chronos and Kairos?

Today is April 10 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you reflect upon Chronos and Kairos? Navigating the chaos often requires one to reflect upon their use of time. To help with such an exercise, it is important to understand, practice, and assess how you use Chronos and Kairos. Knowing the difference between the two can have a significant impact on your ability to navigate the chaos.

Kairos is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment. The ancient Greeks had two words for time: Chronos and Kairos. The former refers to chronological or sequential time, while the latter signifies a proper or opportune time for action. While Chronos is quantitative, Kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature.

For example, knowing what time of day it is involves Chronos. The same holds true to understanding what day of the month it is. Any reference to chronological time is Chronos.

Kairos, however, refers to the proper time for action. The most common illustration is the moment in archery when the archer pulls back the bow, pauses for a moment, then, upon recognizing Kairos, releases the arrow towards the target. But Kairos is subjective and a complex concept. For example, how one defines the right moment to release the arrow is up to interpretation.

Most people tend to spend most of their awareness in Chronos. Electronic calendars provide a daily to do list for most professionals these days. Calendars posted on refrigerators outline a family’s weekly appointments for parents and children alike. All too often, however, Chronos tends to be the primary focus for people.

It is important to remember there is no one word in today's English language that completely encompasses the definition of Kairos. Its’ complexity requires a period of reflection in order to better leverage its application. In short, there are three elements involved with a basic understanding of the term Kairos. First. Kairos involves figuring out what to say or do at the right time, which in and of itself is subjective. Second, there is a level of appropriateness to consider when engaging in Kairos. And third, along with taking advantage of the timeliness and appropriateness of a situation, the term also implies being knowledgeable of and involved in the environment where the situation is taking place in order to benefit fully from seizing the opportune moment.

So, there are three questions then you could ask yourself regarding the use of Kairos:

1)Is this the right time to say or do something?

2)Are my actions or words appropriate at this ‘right time?’

3)Is my knowledge about the situation detailed enough to warrant action at this time?

Common applications of Kairos while navigating the chaos include:

Is this the right time to get married?

Is this the right time to have a child?

Is it appropriate for me to say something at this point in time?

Is it the right time to change jobs?

The process of identifying, assessing, and deciding on Kairos requires a good deal of self-reflection. While discussing critical questions with others might be helpful, realize that ultimately you are the one who needs to release the arrow from the bow.

In her publication Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art author Madeleine L'Engle commented on Kairos and wrote “but BEing time is never wasted time. When we are BEing, not only are we collaborating with chronological time, but we are touching on Kairos, and are freed from the normal restrictions of time.”

How often do you reflect upon Chronos and Kairos?