Time Out of Time

Think of all the moments in your life when time stood still. How long did you hold your newborn when she first emerged? How long did that moonlit walk last on the night you realized you were in love? How long did you sit in the waiting room watching the door each time it opened, willing the surgeon to come out with good news?

With these supple and striking images Anna Keating conjures moments of “time out of time” when we feel profoundly alive, grounded in the depths of our humanity. We all know them – such time “does not obey the ordinary rhythms of minutes and hours” but rather “burst the bonds of time.” Keating reminds us of the ancient Greek understanding of chronos and kairos. Chronos is measured by a clock and has specific parameters like the time it takes to read this blog. Kairos is that supple “time out of time” — that “due season”, an irreplicable moment of opportunity, or irrefutable flash of clarity and purpose.

Christians are invited to enter such “time out of time” during the Triduum, the “three days” from sundown Holy Thursday through the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. These three days carry a rhythm that breathes like a single day! Triduum is time to stop, be quiet, tend the silence, gather, prepare and pray. Keatings’ blog post is valuable reading [link]. I gratefully cite it nearly two weeks prior to Holy Thursday to reiterate Keating’s essential point: keeping Triduum warrants our anticipation and deliberate planning.

Yes, participation in the liturgies at our churches is to be highly recommended! It compounds our experience to share the dynamic flow of these liturgies with the same community of seekers. But this is not an endurance test nor is anyone keeping attendance – show up as you are able! Savor the magnificent rituals, but don’t depend on them exclusively! How do you wish to enter Triduum? How can you better dispose yourself to a kairos experience transcending the “chronology” posted in a schedule or texts printed in a missal? Of course, show up even if it all comes down to the last moment — grace happens! But, given the chance, be deliberate. Be choiceful. Be generous with yourself. Embrace the opportunity. Plan ahead.

The world was stunned by Pope Francis washing the feet of lay people on Holy Thursday last year, women as well as men and even a Muslim. We are two weeks out! We all would do well to stretch the rubrics and transcend tired rituals.  Whose feet deserve to be washed this year? Whose feet would you like to see washed? How might you “wash” these feet whether within a liturgy or with other gestures outside of the church’s time-honored ritual?  Maybe, especially for us control-freaks, we need to allow someone else to figuratively but profoundly “wash” our feet.

Good Friday invites us to walk with Jesus through his passion and death. Scripture for each of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross are available [here]. With which point along the Way do you especially identify this year? Why is that? Get up-close-and-personal with Jesus in that resonant kairos moment. Do you identify with a particular character in the passion narrative? Be that person for someone outside of church – carry someone’s cross for a while, wipe the sweat and blood of someone suffering. Maybe you know what it is like to fall multiple times.  Go with your heart – it knows where your kairos beckons.

Easter Vigil is the traditional time for Baptism. Do you know the date of your Baptism? Give your godparents a call and wish them Happy Easter. Take some time to consider what your Baptism has meant to you. They say faith is not so much taught as it is caught. When, why and where did you “catch” your faith? Jesus knew in the Garden that he had a “baptism” yet to undergo. What “agony” are you enduring?  What “baptism by fire” is awaiting you? How does Jesus’ dying and rising strengthen you for what lies ahead?

Regardless of the season of the year or the liturgical calendar, when have you experienced “Easter”? What would Easter look-like for you this year? Mary of Magdala thought Jesus was the gardener – how might the Risen One choose to appear to you in kairos time this year?

What would make time stand still?  You know what you need – make it happen. We’ve got time!

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