We’ve lost track of the snow days and cold delays. We haven’t had a normal week yet this year. Some days it’s looked like a ghost town around here, everyone behind bolted doors, nothing moving over the streets but snow drifts. I sort of like it that way.
I know a lot of friends have been getting cabin fever, but I welcome the forced retreat, like a creature curled up with her babies in the den. There are events and seasons, like the snow this winter or the arrival of my baby girl last spring, that force us to “be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation…the way our Savior God wants us to live.”
As I nurse my baby every three to four hours and coordinate her two naps a day, I find myself feeling the Western concept of time quite foreign…and fatiguing. When I plan a playdate, I always give the disclaimer that I may be a few minutes late depending on nursing (I like to let my baby feed until she’s done instead of timing her by the clock) and naps…and whether or not the four year-old feels like putting her coat and mittens on at the “right” time.
On the flip-side, in the traditional non-Western world “each event is as long or as short as it needs to be. One cannot determine the required time in advance. Time is elastic, dictated only by the natural unfolding of the event,” authors E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien say in their book Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes. That warrants a sigh of relief if you ask me. They go on to talk about chronos time, “what we might call clock or calendar time: discrete units of time that need to be measured (relatively) precisely,” and kairos time, used twice as much in the Bible, which refers to the fullness of time, the perfect moment and making the most of every opportunity. As they say, the biblical authors “were less concerned with clock or calendar time (chronos) and more concerned with the appropriateness and fittingness of events (kairos). You might say they were more concerned with timing than with time.”
Moses may have prayed, “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Paul may have urged, “make the most of your time.” But those verses don’t seem to ride on the undercurrent of panic that often shows up in our more clock-oriented way of life.
I think I’m a kairos person who’s struggled all her life to live up to the micromanaging standards of a chronos culture. It’s probably why I’ve traveled the world and why even now I find myself most comfortable planning playdates with my new Middle Eastern friend who is always as “late” as me.
This season, both with baby and with winter, I’ve enjoyed having an excuse to take life more slowly, to bow out of expectations of timeliness, to trust the natural rhythms of home life (even letting the kids crack the eggs though the recipe will take twice as long), to let go of my tedious task list and instead sit back and wonder at the work of His hands, even the stuff falling softly outside my windows.
“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor. The animals take cover; they remain in their dens. The tempest comes out from its chamber, the cold from the driving winds. The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen.” Job 37:6-10
I’m linking up today with Tsh Oxenreider to celebrate the release of her book, Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. Order by Saturday and visit Tsh’s page to find out how to get a bundle of Blue Bike freebies!