Thursday, November 10, 2011

Time Outside of Time—The White Space of Life


On my recent morning walk, with my IPod cranked to drown out the traffic sounds, I heard greetings in the musical pauses.  Some were planned pauses when I pushed “pause” as someone approached.  Others were pauses in musical phrasing or between songs.  What did I hear?  Nothing of substance.  A “good morning” or “hello” or “hi.” But after the second one, my mind leaped (when I’m caffeinated it roams in leaps and bounds) to a correlation between musical phrasing, marginal white space, and kairos. 

Are you confused yet?  That’s the beauty of a disorganized mind.  Utter confusion.  So I’ll define by example.  What do you hear/see/feel between the notes?  This morning before my walk I had almost finished reading Revelation.  During my walk I listened to this song (here are the words if you don’t want to listen) and it took me to that time and place described in that chapter of Revelation, even though it was not directly related, and suddenly, in the pauses, I was there with the saints and angels around the throne.  Now, that isn’t usually what happens.  Usually, it’s more mundane.  Today was special.

When you read, what do you hear/see/feel between the lines?  I judge books on how well they are written and how well they move between the lines.  I recently read a book which taught me something I didn’t know before.  But what was between the lines?  Nada, nothing.  A book that moves between the lines, strikes you at the heart level.  It makes you sit up and pay attention.  It plants something in your mind that will not leave you.  I rarely read poetry, but the title of this poem and the words that followed struck me in this way:  between the lines.  Every Riven Thing.  Why did it affect me this way.  I think it’s because the poet put so much between the lines.  This poem is not at the beginning of the book with the same name, but in the middle, just as it was an experience of the poet’s in the middle of suffering.  I’m not suffering, but it affected me between the lines.


Every Riven Thing: Poems

What is in this white space of life where we live between the lines and the notes?  That’s where kairos and chronos come in.  These are two Greek words which help us define time.  Chronos is clock time.  Tick-tock, second by second, it passes through our lives.  Kairos is that time outside of clock time where a minute may seem like an hour or an hour may seem like a minute.  It is the aha! moment, the light in the darkness, the explosions of grace and beauty which interrupt our lives.  How do you get it?  You can’t.  It comes unbidden, unexplained, and unexpected.  Your only participation is to be aware of it and to grasp it.  Not a grasp that you would use to catch a grackle, but a tender grasp that shows your awareness of the moment and your willingness to follow.

I thought about titling this “Between the Lines” but that was too visual. I thought about “In the Pauses” but that was too aural.  I thought about “The Kairos and the Chronos” but that was too esoteric.  Time Outside of Time more clearly defines what happens in the musical pauses or the white area of writing where our lives change just a little.  It also describes Kairos, our life spaces where we become most human and most aware as we experience time outside of time.

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