This was something I heard older people say all the time when I was younger. “The years just speed by,” they would say, usually remarking how much I’d grown since they saw me last. Truthfully, I never took them seriously. It seemed to me that time was time and it moved at the same pace no matter your age.
Now that I am well into my 50’s, I admit I may have dismissed them too soon. Indeed, time does seem to move more quickly. I find myself saying things like, “Lent snuck up on me,” or “It feels like we just celebrated Easter and here it is again.” And now I have to catch myself before saying to one of the church’s high school seniors, “I knew you when you were a toddler, which seems like just the other day. Time sure flies.”
It is true that time moves at the same pace no matter your age. But it does seem, at least for me, the perception of time’s passage has sped up. I suspect that could be because when I was a child I was pretty good at living in the present. Most kids are. But as we age and take on more responsibilities, it is harder to live in the present, and we have to be more intentional about it.
Lent affords us the invitation to discover the ways God is at work now, to practice disciplines that can have the effect of slowing us down enough to see God’s time embedded in our frenetic time. I love that the Greek language provides two words for time. There is “chronos,” which refers to clock time. This is the time that can seem to speed up or slow down depending on our perception of things. But they gave a second word for time, “Kairos,” to refer to the fullness of time, those moments when time seems to stand still, sacred time – God’s time. I believe this is the time Jesus refers to when he says, “The kingdom of God is near.”
The kingdom, God’s realm, is near. It impinges on our time. It invites us to rest in an alternative time, one in which it is possible to discover amidst the pace of life a harbor of peace.
This Sunday we take up palms and make our way into Holy Week. That week is called Holy because it recounts events central to our faith – the cross and the empty tomb. But it is also called Holy because it gives us space for those events to come alive for us by the power of the Spirit and transform the living of our days. Holy Week is an invitation to Kairos time.