Love to all!
Girl Hikers! Kristina, Jen, Holly, Joy, Hannah, Julie, Danielle, and Rebecca
(Sorry if I spelled your name wrong!)
I forget the first one's name, Boniface, Phil, Davis, Dean on top of Brian, Josh, and two others!
Over the past month or so I have been reading the book Compassion, written by Henri Nouwen and his friends Douglas Morrison and Donald McNeill. I have read a fair amount of Nouwen and am always astounded and impacted by what he writes. But this book has been ridiculously impactful. I have been reading it with To Be Told by Dan Allander sort of as companion books. And they work together like WD40 on a bike chain.
Along with that, I realize that my blog title might be a tad bit confusing to people. What the heck does In Kairos mean? It’s not an island near Greece, if you were wondering. Compassion has helped me understand Kairos a lot better than I did. So, this blog post is going to be a little different (if you hadn’t already figured that out) because it is going to be more introspective and contemplative, rather than a summary of events (I did go to Kampala again this weekend, and then made chicken soup and mashed potatoes for my family).
Kairos time, as I understand it, is God’s time. I took a class on keeping the Sabbath a year ago and our illustration for the difference between out time (chronos time) and God’s was this: as we live we are rocks in a river, and the river is time rushing past us, but as God lives time is a rock, steady and unmoving, and we are the river rushing past time. I know that probably doesn’t make immediate sense, and honestly I do not know the words to explain the understanding I have of it. My understanding is on a heart level, so I feel the understanding, but I do not have the language in my brain to communicate my heart. But just keep that picture in your heart, or brain, as you continue reading.
One of the last chapters of Compassion is called “Patience.” When I first saw the title I wanted to laugh, and then not read it. I hate being patient, because it makes me feel powerless and trapped. Or when someone tells me to be patient I just want to slap them in the face because it seems like an answer you give someone when you want them to feel better or you have nothing else to say. Also, I really do enjoy instant gratification… even though I know that long-term stuff is usually way better.
So, as I started reading this chapter I was expecting to feel guilty about my lack of patience and challenged to have patience more often. But that has not been the case. The authors, instead, redefine patience. They are defining patience within compassion, and their definition is as follows: “Patience means to enter actively into the thick of life and to fully bear the suffering within and around us. Patience is the capacity to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell as fully as possible the inner and out events of our lives.” In other words, patience is the opposite of our fight or flee instinct. Patience asks us to stay, to experience whatever is happening within us, or within those around us.
This was surprising for me to read, but also so challenging. I am a flee-er. I usually do not want to stay and fight through something; I want to flee it. And I especially don’t want to sit in something hard without having a way to fix it. I want the bad feelings out and gone, and I want to return to homeostasis. However, redefining patience in this way changes it from a virtue some people have and others don’t into a discipline everyone can work for.
The authors also point out that impatience is always related to time. Always. We are impatient when a speaker goes over time, or when a class is nearly finished. We are impatient when our flight is delayed, or our friend is late for our coffee date. This is because we are constrained by chronos time. In our culture (North American) we are trained to be efficient with our time. We can even take classes and read books on time management.
So where am I going with this, and why am writing about this in a blog? I had hoped my time in Africa would be time away from time, chronos time. I hate being constrained by time, and rushing from place to place because time demands I must. I am tired of being the rock and having time rush past me. So I thought in Uganda this would all be different, and that I would be living in kairos time. I hoped it would be time out of time. Time in God, time with God, time that didn’t insist on going past me, time that stayed still and calm, and gently moved with the inklings of my soul.
But Ugandans have jobs, go to classes, work hard, and are constrained by time. While their time works a little differently, it is still within the confines of 24 hours in a day. And I forgot that I would be in classes, which means every day is scheduled, and due dates creep up on me and attack when I least want to do the assignment.
But what I realized while reading Compassion is that kairos time is not dependant on a location or culture. It’s not even dependant on my schedule. Because I have to still live in chronos time. The world I live in demands it. But that doesn’t mean I have be controlled by it, nor does my life need to be dictated by it. Kairos time is more about my heart-set. And the question I really need to ask myself is am I rushing around, attempting to be efficient, or am I in communion with God and the Beings on this earth? Am I just trying to keep up with the pace of this world, or am I letting myself sit with people, sit with myself, in moments of joy, pain, shame, heartache, abandonment, gladness etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean dropping everything I am doing, though often it does. It is more an openness of my heart to allow these events to remain in their fullness until the event is passed. That is what kairos is, and I hope to always be able to remain in Kairos.
Blessings on your week!
Love to all!
Sorry this is so late this week. It has been insanely busy! Also, I do not have much to report on because not much has happened other than writing papers and reading books. Even though I had all of last week to work on these assignments, I spent a lot more time reading books that fed my soul than reading and writing for school.
But I am so excited to have everyone back! I have also been spending a lot of time just talking with people here and catching up on the last week of their lives. It has been really fantastic to be able to do that. Being without these people for a week made me realize how much I love them all! And I have been appreciating their presence a lot more this week than I have before.
Um… that’s about it. We have reached the more-than-halfway point, and I think in about 6 weeks I will be flying home. I don’t know what to do with that information yet. So I am not going to think about it too much.
Um… yeah. I don’t even have any new pictures, either. But when I do I will put them up!
I guess have a good week, everyone! And feel free to send me notes or funny jokes or anything this week. I am going to go write a paper about polygamy now. Woot!
Love to all!