What’s the first step of a journey? Is it the first step out the door? Is it the first step from the gate to the plane?
I’ve recently returned from a special journey: a pilgrimage, a trip taken for the purpose of spiritual reflection and growth. Our band of 22 pilgrims – led by pastor, archaeologist, and teacher Bob Rognlien – were on a quest to follow the footsteps of Jesus. This trek took us from the cacophony of Jerusalem to the quiet of the Judean Desert, from the banks of the Jordan river to the villages around the Sea of Galilee, from the base of Mt. Hermon to the foot of Calvary.
Along the way, we prayed, read scripture, studied archaeology, and worshipped. We joined our voices together in song and shared in meals. We joked and teased and laughed; we reflected and questioned and at times even cried.
And God met with us there.
Ancient Greek offered us two concepts of time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is clock time, measured by seconds and minutes and hours. Kairos, on the other hand, is qualitative time, measured by the fullness of moments. (See McKinley Valentine’s great post on the distinction between the two). Chronos is about racing against the clock; kairos is about readiness in the moment. As we journeyed together, we reflected on the “kairos moments” that grabbed our attention; we asked ourselves where God was working in those moments.
I came back with so many of those moments, that I’ve decided to dedicate Fridays on the blog to reflecting on the pilgrimage. Each week, I’ll share some of what I saw, experienced, and learned. And I’ll consider the implications of the moments for how we can live fully, faithfully, and more abundantly. I hope you’ll join me for these “Footsteps Fridays” as together we ponder what it means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
The very act of writing and reflecting reminds me that a pilgrimage is never really complete. It keeps working in me, shaping me, preparing me for the next journey. The pilgrimage continues. It takes me forward to the next adventure, the next calling, the next destination.
Ultimately, the practice of pilgrimage is not about an earthly destination. It’s about learning that every day is a pilgrimage and every step is an adventure. One doesn’t need to go halfway around the world to experience this (though I’m really glad I had the opportunity and privilege to do so). Every morning, when our feet hit the floor, we’re taking another step on our pilgrimage. Every day is another itinerary of “kairos moments” where God meets with us in the most mundane things.
And this makes the difference between a vacation and a pilgrimage. A vacation is a diversion from boredom with the mundane; a pilgrimage is a re-enchantment with the miracle of the mundane.
In a busy, ever accelerating world, how can you experience the kairos moments of your day to day life? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Take 15 minutes at the start of your day for quiet. If are so busy that you can’t take 15 minutes a day for yourself, then you’re not really living, you’re just existing. Try me – take the time every morning for a month and see if it makes you sharper, more focused, and happier. In this time, read the scriptures, remember who you are in God’s sight, request God’s help through the day. Be still for a few moments and think of the day as a pilgrimage rather than a task list.
2) Pause occasionally during the day. Give your mind a moment to catch up, to synthesize what you’re doing, to recalibrate in the midst of your tasks. The Pomodoro technique of time management is built all around 30 minute blocks – 25 minutes of intense focused work, and 5 minutes of giving your mind a break. It’s in these breaks that we become aware of the kairos moments. It’s a practice well worth looking into.
3) Practice gratitude at the end of the day. Regular readers know that I heartily commend the practice of daily gratitude. Gratitude is a spiritual mandate for every human being, but it is also one of the greatest mental health practices we can adopt. Practice the daily habit of listing 5 things for which you are genuinely grateful. Not only will you find your mood improving, but you’ll also find that you’re much more aware of blessings as they come in your life. The practice of gratitude is like a boot camp for perceiving kairos moments as they come.