This pandemic has thrown everything into disarray. Some of us are fortunate to be able to shelter in place in a home with room to move. Others of us live on the streets, or live in crowded apartments where sheltering in place for safety is a fantasy.
Those who work on the front lines: First responders, medical staff, grocery workers, delivery drivers, sanitation workers put themselves at risk from a spirit of service and because economically, there is no other choice.
Others of us are newly unemployed or run a business that may not survive. Graduating seniors wonder what their future will hold. We worry over loved ones that we can’t visit.
And so it goes. The list is endless as we worry over our health, economy and future.
What do we make of this time in our lives?
In ancient Greek culture time is defined in two ways. Chronos refers to the ways in which we are shaped by time. The word chronological is derived from this word. We have schedules, calendars and to do lists that help us manage our time and provide structure and meaning.
COVID-19 however has disrupted our sense of time.
The ancient Greeks viewed such disruptions through an alternative concept of time: Kairos. Kairos in contrast to the familiarity of chronos is unpredictable. Ancient Greek philosophies offered this definition:
Kairos: A passing instant when an opening appears which creates a new opportunity.
This pandemic is a Kairos moment.
In the midst of the disruptions and losses, can this moment offer opportunity? For you? For our society?
In my Christian tradition Kairos is used 86 times. It refers to an opportune time, a moment, a season, when God enters and acts. Jesus was referring to a Kairos moment when he said: ‘The Kingdom of God is near’ (Mt 3:2; Lk 17:21). A reference to a time of justice, healing and hope.
What do you need at this moment in your life? What do we need as a society?
Who are we when health and wealth and status is stripped away?
It has been said:
We remember who we are, as we remember the One and the ones, to whom we belong.
This is true.
Could it be that this Kairos moment is reminding us of what we’ve too often forgotten? Namely, that we belong to God (who goes by many names) and to one another.
This Kairos moment has made us painfully aware of the injustice in our economic and political system. That those who clean our rest rooms and buildings, who pick up our trash, who staff our nursing homes, serve our meals, who stock our shelves and deliver our packages, are the ones who make our society run. These are the ones who to often don’t make a living wage and can’t afford health care.
Could it be that from this pandemic will come a reallocation of resources built upon a new way of viewing who has worth and value? Could it be that we have a renewed sense of responsibility to and for one another?
Imagine people having time to spend with family, friends, neighbors. A time when people can make ends meet with one job (not 2 or 3). A time when everyone has access to quality health care. A time when our environment is not viewed as a commodity but as a gift to steward for a healthy present and future.
If this is to be a Kairos moment, we must seize the opportunity to reflect on what in our heart of hearts, that we know to be true: We belong to God and we belong to one another.
As we claim this truth all things become possible. All things become new.
May it be so.