Kairos and Chronos

Upon the completion of my last worksite with Asheville Youth Mission, I was left with a curious thought: how should I measure my time spent this summer? In other words, what will I tell my friends and family about my internship at AYM when I return to college? Of course, being the science kid I am, I looked first to trying to understand what time really means.

How do we measure time? Well, historically, we measured time by dividing one orbit of the earth around the sun into little chunks. Namely, the second. First defined as 1/86,400 part of a mean solar day, the second now caries an even more curiously-arbitrary definition. Currently, the second is defined as “9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom.” That’s ridiculous right?!

I have come to the conclusion that time with people and our silly definition of time are profoundly different. This difference can be best explained by exploring a little Greek linguistics. In ancient Greece, there were two words for time: Kairos and Chronos. Chronos, meaning a sort of sequential view of time and Kairos meaning God’s time.

Chronos, in our world, is pretty easy to get used to. For instance, that clock you have on the wall ticks every second. In previous jobs I traded this type of time for money. Kairos, however, is a little trickier to grasp. Have you ever spent time with friends or family and notice that time can move extremely fast or slow in different moments? I most certainly have this summer. It is these moments (the moments in which I forget about Chronos) in which the most fruitful growth occurs. A balance between give and take emerges in which one learns as much as one teaches. A few of those moments this summer include: a discussion with Rev. Milly Morrow and youth about gentrification in West Asheville, participating in Lectio Divina at Church of the Advocate, building shelves at the Homeward Bound Donation Center, playing cornhole at Haywood Street Congregation, being silly at the Irene Wortham Center, teaching some wonderful youth about what it means to live an abundant life, and learning from some wonderful youth about what it means to live an abundant life. It is these moments, that I will tell my friends and family about my internship at AYM.

So, I leave you with this: we are all hungry for something and we all have something to offer. I strongly believe that we become something greater than the sum of our parts when we live in this Kairos and briefly forget about the Chronos.

Riley Stephenson is a summer intern at Asheville Youth Mission.  He attends North Carolina State University.

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