Many years ago I had a profound experience. With a friend I visited a ruined castle on a hill. There were ripe apples under an apple tree. I picked some up. The friend stood maybe eight metres away and smiled at me.
All of a sudden, all sense of time disappeared. I experienced the present intensely. I felt free of thoughts, feelings and desires, even free of myself. The everyday worries, the pressures of this world, the weight on my shoulders had disappeared … What remained was a feeling of infinite freedom and deep peace. I felt like a child, the world was still new. I was standing there, in the absolute now, the intersection between past and future.
This experience at the castle ruins, this experienced taste of eternity, lasted perhaps only seconds, but contained a wealth of inexpressible moments. I could not explain the experience – but it was wonderful.
Was the friend I felt connected to the trigger? Did it come from within me? Or did the eternal break into the temporal – a ray of God?
Chronos and Kairos
I would like to bring my experience into connection with the two kinds of time of which the old Greeks spoke: chronos and kairos.
Chronos means the timepiece in minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, periodically recurring cycles …, the concrete, rhythmic perception of time, also, for example, in the change of seasons.
The German word for time (Zeit) comes from the old German Zit and means to divide, to cut up into sections.
Kairos lifts us out of the normal (quantitative) understanding of time. Kairos is the moment filled with values and (life) content.
In our daily life we experience the aspects of chronos and, as conscious observers, of kairos. Time can pass slowly or quickly, we have subjective perceptions of time, feel it very differently.
If a person has slept too little, time passes much more slowly. Or if he is bored time virtually stops. Is in this case time is used too little – not following the “Carpe Diem“?
Can man speed up time if he plays Sudoku or watches television, for example? No, he “fools” time. He has not used it creatively, but has let it pass, perhaps even wasted it. Or has he unconsciously run away from time that could give meaning?
An abundance of very consciously experienced events, intense human encounters make time whiz by, as do beautiful holidays that pass more quickly with each day. The same applies to high concentration in a hobby or even working days in stress or eustress.
Similarly, in a dream we can witness whole stories that last hours or days, and we have perhaps only been dreaming for a few minutes.
The birth of a child can be felt as happening out of time … and on the “reverse” level also the dying process, which slips over into the timeless. As well as the transition from the waking state to the sleeping state eludes the passage of time.
Moving away from the I-Consciousness
When man is tired or disinterested, he does not live consciously in the now and is not focused on the moment. When his attention is, however, devoted to the activity or to the person facing him, he moves away from his I-consciousness. The passage of time becomes insignificant.
The ego may look at the hours of work. But the heart or soul simply experiences, surrenders to the events. So he can work three hours or eight hours. Time no longer plays a role. The soul-feeling is the same, for him eight hours are just as long or short as three hours.
Man is then in service. One can say: When he really serves a thing or a person, he serves God.
To be in service means to live in the moment, to be aware in the moment, forgetting oneself.
In the New Testament, the term kairos signifies the time when God is acting.
The temple is an ancient term for the house of God, a place where God can reveal himself in time, which is what the term temple literally means: Tempo – the time, El – the divine. A temple is a place of silence. When we become still, we can hear “the voice of silence”. We can step out of time, up into other soul spaces and dimensions. And time expands almost into eternity.
In the temple with Christian tradition we find the cross, a wonderful symbol that represents how eternity sinks into time.
The horizontal bar on the cross points to the course of the world, to the sequence of time, to the field of human experience – the “training school of eternity”. It signifies our world with time and space (with finiteness and limitedness), the world with its pairs of opposites of which the one can never be without the other, no matter how often man tries to change it. Good – evil, day – night, man – woman…
The vertical bar points out that there is something beyond space and time, something supernatural, a way to the divine.
When man is in God’s temple or goes into his innermost heart, he can find a fullness of timeless dimensions in himself (dimensio – Latin – the expansion), soul spaces he can pass through so that he can later say he was in that state for a long time.
A short time in “God’s temple” (according to the clock) can evoke the impression of having stayed there for weeks. The human being in “his temple” can have the experience of being raised on a higher vibrating planet. He afterwards lands on his old planet again (the horizontal bar) after having “dived into divine realms” (the vertical bar). He finally steps out of the temple facing his life
At the point on the cross where the horizontal and vertical bars meet is the intersection of time and eternity. This is where eternity meets time.
Man symbolises the cross with outstretched arms, as depicted by Leonardo da Vinci in his Vitruvian Man. In his centre, in his heart, the eternity that has been slumbering for a long time awakens. Through a gradual absorption into the timeless, through a service to the divine core within him, the human being can be transformed in all his structures, right down to the organs, into a higher vibrant being that transcends time and space.
Hence the exclamation in Mark 1, verse 15: “The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, believe in the gospel.”
It is an awakening from chronos timing into kairos experience.
Our path leads to the centre of our existence, to the centre of time, where there is no more time.
In the intersection of the cross is life in the immediacy of the now, life in the kairos awakeness and momentary experience.
Here man is open to God.
Here is the connection of time and eternity.