I’m reading a book that refers to the Greek concept of kairos — the state of in between when something special happens. Not the quantitative chronos, but the spiritual, mystical kairos. The athletic “zone.” The Christian moment of grace. The moment before a roller coaster plummets, a newborn gasps a first breath, a champagne cork flies through the air.
This weekend I found kairos in the grace of a ballerina’s arms. I watched, rapt, as a dance troupe leapt across an auditorium stage. Folded into my tiny chair with a furrowed brow, I felt my fingers tingle and my anxiety fall away when the ballerinas came on stage in a flutter of beauty. One ballerina in particular was so tall, so elegant. Her arms and legs moved like water rushing through a canyon — strong, fierce and yet simply perfectly flowing.
I felt kairos in the rush of ice cold water when I dove into a swimming pool, joining a clump of other Speedo-clad adults. The familiarity of the navy square tiles on the bottom of the pool, the red plastic lane lines, the sharp sting of chlorine flooding your sinuses after the first flip turn. The snap of a latex cap and the pinch of my goggles, I felt like I’d returned home when I felt the first splash.
Cooking, especially, is a state of kairos — the in between. The chopping, grinding, measuring and waiting for the final result. The carob brownies three days late for a friend’s birthday. She didn’t remember the delay (chronos) when I handed her these.
Gardening, too. The planting, tending, watering, weeding. The baby tomatoes, squash and peppers that sprout with youthful determination. It takes mature patience to wait for the ripening. The sweet, juicy lure of homegrown warm produce from the garden — worth both forms of time.
Finding happiness without measuring life by the chronological isn’t easy. And yet, moments of kairos dance by unappreciated if my heart is paced by the tick of the clock.
Time to take off the watch.