Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sense of An Ending . . . and a beginning

I read something yesterday in Fr. James Martin’s Jesus: A Pilgrimage. It made me think of conversion and Lent and even a little something from my days as a graduate student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

“The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos, the tick-tock chronological time that we are more familiar with; and kairos, the right or opportune moment. We also know what these kairos moments are like: tired and dissatisfied with our lives, we’re waiting for someone to say that it is okay to change. For the fishermen on the shore, this was their kairos moment” (Martin 140).

All the talk of chronos and kairos reminded me of The Sense of an Ending - required reading for M.A. comps. Not that I wrote anything profound that awful, awful day. I received a B on my comprehensive exams though I had trended toward A’s throughout graduate school. I choose to blame my performance on the migraine that rendered the experience a nightmarish blur. No hyperbole. I began the day with a shot of Imitrex which worked no better than a couple of Tic Tacs.

I remember three writers from the long list of required reading. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. The Writing Life and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. And Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending.

I might have known that I was headed for a massive conversion –for I forgot most of the other things I read in the months of preparation for comps, but the things that remained and took up residency in my long term memory were Annie Dillard, T.S.  Eliot and Frank Kermode. If you took Pilgrim, Writing Life, Four Quartets and Sense of an Ending and ground them up with a mortar and pestle, you might end up with words like Catholic and mystery and contemplative and writer.

It is where I was headed – though I, myself, had no idea.

But there is something about the notion of kairos. A time for each thing. A season. A changing over and rendering up. Dropping nets to follow. Or abandoning the now for the unexpected call. The sense of an ending. And of a beginning.

When you talk about such things, others stare. They don’t get it. Aren’t privy to the crook of God’s finger. The hook of the Shepherd’s staff. My walking papers. My mandate to go. To follow. To pick up a pen. Or a cross. Or both.

There is something beautiful-and painful-in accepting the call one receives in these kairos moments.

You try to get others to understand, but there is no way they truly can– not being in your skin.
Not having walked in your moccasins.

The most one can hope for is for one’s spiritual director to affirm the call.
It’s enough. A nod from him and a nod from grace– that’ll do.

Kairos. The changing time.

A blank page.

It’s not that anything is possible. It is only that His Will awaits. And somehow, you know it. You begin to perceive it.

The words on the blank page are written in invisible ink – the kind of ink that fills God’s pen. And your spirit is the secret decoder that unlocks the hidden script. You see the words.

And you get to say–

Ok. Let’s do it.

So be it. Amen.

You drop your nets and walk away from what was to embrace what is to come.

It is the moment you are ready for God’s plan for you.


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