Measuring Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about the way humans measure time. My four-year-old daughter, for example, keeps track of the year by the holidays. She knows that October brings Halloween and she’ll get to dress up, then that turkey day, then Christmas, when she’ll get gifts, then Valentine’s day, then her birthday, then Easter, etc. etc. Now I don’t have a major problem with keeping track of time this way because holidays and special days put a little spark in the dull routine of our lives. However, these holidays have become very commercialized and secularized, and are ripe opportunities for retailers to prey on consumers. (I mean, the Valentine stuff showed up on shelves before New Years!)

My desire is for my daughter to mark time based on the church calendar. In the Orthodox Church, there are 12 major feasts throughout the year – including Christmas (which we call the Nativity), Easter (which we call Pascha), and Pentecost – feasts typically celebrated by Protestant churches also. But the OC doesn’t stop with those three – we celebrate Jesus’ presentation in the temple (i.e., his circumcision and naming) and the birth and death of Mary, among others.

What I’m getting at is back to chronos time versus kairos time. (Read this blog post for another reference.) Chronos time, or chronological time, moves forward in a linear manner. It can never be regained. Kairos time refers to time outside of time, a sense of time that transcends chronos time, or a special time set aside for something, or, some would say, God’s time. When you focus on the feasts of the church, you are in kairos time. You are taken out of your 2010 world and life and pulled into moments in which the saints and earthly believers join together to commemorate a historical moment of the faith. The events of church calendar remind us of what is truly important and give us the blessing that chronological time cannot. Chronological time has to deal with what is lost, what is gone. Kairos moments are eternal and help us center our souls and regroup so that we can face the trials and stresses of chronos time again.

That said, I still have the challenge of moving my children toward kairos moments. Any suggestions?


  1. David says:

    Poaching! I once asked a friend what his thoughts were about raising Kyla in a way that wouldn’t force her into gender stereotypes. His advice to me was, “Buy her a purse. But fill it with trucks.” I find it is very helpful to incorporate some “secular” traditions, with which Kyla is inevitably more familiar, with some Orthodox ones, giving the Orthodox ones primacy. Hence, St. Nicholas comes on December 6, but also December 25th. And there is no Mrs. Claus, because bishops don’t have wives.

  2. kksorrell says:

    I agree, it’s good to have a mix of both. I don’t want them to be so steeped in Orthodox traditions that they are extremely sheltered. Also, I think barring them from all secular traditions stifles them socially and robs them of the chance to learn how to be “in the world” but not “of the world”. I didn’t get the poaching reference.

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