time

the Driftless Area

I live in a geographically beautiful area. 

view from Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa looking toward the bridge between Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and Marquette, Iowa

view from Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa looking toward the bridge between Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and Marquette, Iowa

Summertime in the Mississippi River valley is beautiful.

Oh, who am I kidding? Anytime in this river valley is beautiful. 

January sunset looking from Alma, Wisconsin towards the Minnesota bluffs

January sunset looking from Alma, Wisconsin towards the Minnesota bluffs

I love the four seasons (except the hot muggy in the dog days of summer). The river draws bald eagles, fishing boats, barges, and tourists. Its backwaters attract white egrets and great blue herons in the summer and in winter, little towns of ice fishing houses. 

This area of the Mississippi River valley--southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota , northeast Iowa, and northwest Illinois--is called the Driftless area.  It's an area that escaped the "drift" of the last glaciers retreat.

But, the deep river valleys were carved by the force of megafloods from the melting of ice dams that held in the gigantic glacial Lake Agassiz and the smaller glacial lakes Duluth and Grantsberg.

Imagine the torrential power of that ice cold water, filling these valleys to the brim, cutting out the faces of the bluffs? It gives me goosebumps when I stand on top of a hill and overlook the valley. I am so minuscule and frail next to the noise and rush of those melting glacier waters.  In comparison, the largest watershed in the U.S. of our grand Mississippi River and its tributaries pales and becomes insignificant.

As a child, I took swimming lessons in the river and enjoyed the waves that the barges caused. Now I enjoy the beauty of the valley and watching the bird life. 

Time

 

The Greeks have two words for time: chronos and kairos.

From chronos, we receive the English words chronology and chronological. It is the ticking clock of time, the measured beat moving forward, the earth's steady sweep around the sun. 

Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning an opportune moment, the right moment. It is the seize-the-day moment, the peek at eternity, the breaking into chronos and expanding space within that beat.  Kairos somehow breaks into the ticking clock of time yet does not disturb the progression of time.  

I believe we saw both measures of time happening this week past in our national life.

There was the steady march of a regular pattern in the political life of the U.S. at the occurance of the inauguration and peaceful transfer of power as President Obama stepped down and Trump became president. And there was that seize-the-day moment of the Women's March, as women and men and children, white and people of color, here in the U.S. and internationally stood up for human rights--women's rights, GLBTQ rights, black rights, environmental rights, Native American rights, Asian rights, the right to health care, the right to have clean water to drink.

 I also found both measures of time happening this week past in my personal life as my family dealt with an emergency hospitalization, the question of Do Not Intubate/Do Not Resuscitate, and the recovery process as we waited and stayed the night in a waiting room in the Intensive Care Unit.

Whether we face mortality or the dissonance of values desired and values placed in a national office, those kairos moments occur. And we have a choice of what to do: we can pretend its not happening or we can look it square in the face and be frank in our conversation, honest in our body language. 

As a person of faith, I believe those kairos moments are the expression of the ever-living presence of the Eternal Spirit who swoops from her resting place in our hearts and--with our acquiescence to God's call, God's dream--exits our mouths, our hands, our feet.