Kairos, Chronos, and Creativity

I’m not going to get too much into etymology here. I just want to share a realization I had recently about these three words. Kairos and Chronos both greek words for ‘time’ and Creativity a latin word originally used to communicate ‘divine creation’.

Chronos gives us the modern word chronology among other derivatives, meaning ordered time, like the time on a clock or a calendar. In contrast, another Greek word for time, ‘Kairos’ can mean crisis, but not crisis the way we would normally think. Typically, we understand a crisis to be a bad thing. When people are in crisis there is some suffering happening, or a negative experience of some sort. But crisis in the kairos sense is more about a ‘critical time’ or an ‘opportune time’. So, I can look at a kairos moment, or a ‘crisis’ more as an opportunity than as a misfortune. A moment where I can make an important change. A problem that I have the chance to solve in a more creative way. A challenge that I will choose to overcome.

So I am experiencing a season of time that is chronological right now. I am looking at the calendar and I am seeing the days pass, one by one. And half of me wants to be creative and the other half lacks any desire of the sort. That puts me into a crisis as well. And that is bad, right? Well, maybe not. Perhaps I need to remind myself of the historical definition of crisis. Kairos. Critical. Opportunity.

Driving home from a gig with my cover band last weekend, I had a startling thought. What if this creativity that has been so much a part of my whole life doesn’t return? What if the songs are over? What if I’m done? I was so emotional I had to pull over and process for a few minutes. The nearest spot (no surprise, living where I live) gave me a stunning view of Lake Okanagan, and the mountainous hills that rise above it. I got out of the vehicle, clumsily hiked down the steep hill a short way and sat down. I appreciated the view some more, but I also noticed the details of where I sat. The smooth rock perfectly situated on the embankment for viewing. The course brown grass, burnt in the sun. Smaller trees with leaves already turning color in preparation for fall.

I sat there for 15 minutes and realized how terrified I am that inspiration and motivation may not return. And then I thought simultaneously about the grandiose view, and God’s hand in creating the vastness, but also the detailed view, and God’s attention to the very small details. And then I thought about God’s care and love and thoughtfulness in creating me. The big picture of me, my purpose, my reason to exist, and also every little detail about me.

I’m still processing my feelings about all of this, but when I hiked back up the hill (which was a little harder than going down), I had come to terms with the fact that I’m in a crisis, in the very best ‘kairos’ sense of the word. As crazy as it sounds that is a gift. God has allowed me a challenge but also an opportunity. And He was creative enough to design it all that way. Kairos. Brilliant.