Tag Archives: kairos


Dear Sor Juana,

You turned to your books and your telescopes to fuse past and the future and maybe in those moments of silence your presence to the present. Each moment is its own unique distillation – kairos. Kairos is the supreme and opportune moment where chronological time is banished and where every moment is like a time lapse that can fly in any direction in time and space (it is the Tardis timepiece for our fictional time traveller Dr Who). Kairos teaches us about the essence of being able to live in the moment, in the confidence that each one of those granular moments is the season for everything.

I have never done well at keeping to anyone else’s timelines and very happy to let the universe unfold as it should, while savouring what can be savoured from the gift of each day and the promise of what is yet to come. The pilgrim’s journey is one where every step is both a standing still, holding on and moving forward action, all at the same time. Being able to hold the space that takes us to a new place and on a trajectory to presence is a discipline.

When our species was more hunter-gatherer we followed the food and followed the seasons, foraging and finding what we needed where we walked and looked to the stars and the sun to guide us. Kairos happened when you held your arrow, found the berry and made camp each night. The partnership of hunter and gatherer kept communities alive and brought life to the fire with mythological tales and everyday news. Trust was high, everyone knew their role and how to support the community on the road during the day and how to celebrate around with the stories, golden threads, woven, keeping them altogether.

How we make these stories now, know our roles and develop our deep understanding of our place in kairos (as opposed to chronological time) is a noble quest. It is not trivial and at its deepest having a bigger story, bigger agenda, bigger brain thinking and a bigger heart beating will bring us to our essence. The pilgrim has a lot to learn from the hunter-gatherer time – gently stalking then capturing the stories and possibilities to be shared with the wider group; scanning the landscape picking up clues for hunter, building the fire and gathering up the remains of the day, knowing where the greenest shoots are and what fruits are in season ready to be picked. The dance of mother nature with us, more co-creating than conspiratorial, the unfolding visible once we take the moment as kairos. No doubt Sor Juana, you would have studied Aristotle and his schema for rhetoric where for him kairos was that moment in time and space when all was revealed and proof was made visible, where proof was previously hidden.

I am reminded by the Jewish parable of the two sisters Truth and Story, where Truth was reviled when walking through her town naked, yet when Story cloaked her she was accepted and welcomed – no one likes the naked Truth, but when wrapped in Story, it becomes a thing of beauty and something we can all appreciate. Perhaps, this is what happens in kairos – time stands still and the space is held and beautiful truths are revealed. These are glorious moments when the scales fall away, the sun shines, stars twinkle and there is an alignment of the planets. So here’s to hunters and gatherers, and stories bringing more kairos to pilgrims for every indivisible step.

Kairos as portrayed in a 16th-century fresco by Francesco Salviati

Kairos as portrayed in a 16th-century fresco by Francesco Salviati

Are Stadiums the new Cathedrals?

This week I made a pilgrimage to Melbourne to see one of my all time favourite American musicians- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I wasn’t alone in my pilgrimage … thousands of fans around the world have made similar pilgrimages. I wonder if stadiums (or is it stadia?) are the new Cathedrals in our fiercely secular country? There was certainly the call and response, the altar call, the faithful and the high priest. There was ritual and liturgy. We all knew what to expect and what part we had to play – supporting the star to crowd surf, reverently remembering the fallen, acclaiming the alchemy, respecting the hallowed ground and finding our own spirit nourished by the sound, the energy and the message. The standing up, sitting down, dancing, waving, hand clapping, air punching, sign holding, gentle swaying; all liturgical movements of their own like fingers in a glove, in place and in time.

Songlines that bind generations and cultures together sharing the same vision for a world where the worker is at the heart of society. No job too small or too big and certainly this was a band that has earnt its reputation as the ‘hardest working band in rock and roll”. They are like the union choirs and bands of old, blending their voices, instruments and message into one harmonious and triumphant wall of sound (yes there were a few moments that Phil Spector would have been very happy). Watching them work together was a master class in team work and collaboration. There was room for everyone. I kept noticing the guitar technicians, the lighting crew, the backstage staff, all worker bees buzzing around to be in the exact right place and the exact right time and never failing or faulting. When the final applause came the conductor, team captain, high priest and guru all rolled into one, patted everyone on the back before he left the stage, a job well done that they all did together. Yes a masterclass in leadership as well was thrown in.

Hildegard, my hunch is that your Abbey and the cathedrals you frequented were like this stadium too – full of pilgrims, talent and glorious sounds. Your music still brings me to my feet, fills my soul with joy and a message that sustains me. I can imagine you and Bruce sitting down together with your communities maybe on an E Street somewhere and discovering what your communities both have in common.

Arm the Homeless

Seeing Tom’s guitar shouting out messages that Woody Guthrie would have been proud, has plenty in common with your sisters leaving their homes and supporting your land reforms. The legacy of Clarence and his saxophone lives on and the homage paid by the faithful would be understood and shared as gift given and still being received by the next generation. You might have a conversation about recent elections – Obama and Francis – and discuss your own parts in those historical events. I know as an Aussie a long way from the US, how grateful I am to Bruce for helping out on Obama’s campaign and have given thanks more than once!

I love the continuous tradition that music enables of speaking truth to power, providing a vehicle for the masses to sing their songs of hope and fear, celebration and commemoration, grief and joy. I love the threads that come together when I can hear a celtic reel in an working class anthem or a drone echoing in a chorus or an organ chord progression that is ancient and commanding as ever.

Maybe the stadium is the new cathedral or maybe it isn’t – but I know that across the aeons we are all connected and kairos happens. That special and unique moment that connects me, in real time, to both Bruce and Hildegard; E Street and Bingen.

Check out the Notes from the Road #2 Melbourne

Rod Laver Arena, March 26, 2013