The Private Hours and the Person You Want to Be With

Jack and Enki sunshadows

One of the dogs is smashed next to me as the first snow of the season shimmers down from the sky. I am in a snow globe, a stretch of hours spent in my own company – sacred time. In these private hours, when I prioritize spaciousness over busyness, I am best able to tune in and listen, to dip into the deep river that runs beneath the surface. And dogs are always welcome, because they remind me that the time is Now and the world is a smorgasbord of sensory delights, including snuggling in a sunny spot on a snowy morning.

Private hours are a twin star, a flip side of the coin to what I wrote about last time in Soul Friends and Community; I find both necessary to live fully in the world and cultivate the person I want to be. In these last two weeks there has definitely been an expansion of community, and I’ve also spent a good deal of time living in a contemplative space.

Richard Rohr speaks of “living in deep time.” As he describes it:

“ the Greek, in the New Testament, there are two words for time. Chronos is chronological time, time as duration, one moment after another, and that’s what most of us think of as time.

But there was another word in Greek, kairos. And kairos was deep time. It was when you have those moments where you say, “Oh my god, this is it. I get it,” or, “This is as perfect as it can be,” or, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” or, “This moment is summing up the last five years of my life,” things like that where time comes to a fullness, and the dots connect...we can learn how to more easily go back to those kind of moments or to live in that kind of space….[T]o be a contemplative is to learn to trust deep time and to learn how to rest there and not be wrapped up in chronological time.”

Pair with this wise reminder from writer C. Joybell C.: 

“When you wake up in the morning, you are with yourself, laying in bed at night you are with yourself, walking down the street in the sunlight you are with yourself. What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, and it's your responsibility to be the person you want to be with.”

Even though I’ve worked from home for several years now, I operated pretty strictly on chronological time due to the nature of my job. Now, in the first phase of launching a coaching and consulting business, I recognize my shift into “second half of life” thinking (also a concept of Richard Rohr’s; see link below). In the second half of life, Rohr notes that we are ready and able to turn more attention inward and honor deep time/contemplative thinking. I understand that this is both a privilege and a choice.

Now, I am largely responsible for how the moments of each day and week look and feel. I shape the tone, mood, content, and pace. Though of course I had agency and responsibility before, now it’s just dead obvious. When there is only oneself to answer to, it makes the question unavoidable: How am I taking responsibility for being the person I want to be with? How am I shaping life and letting life shape me?

So I’m going to say it. This is a spiritual journey for me. These words may come easily for some people, but they do not come easily at all for me. “Spirituality” is a word laden with connotation. For some, it’s related to religion. For others, not at all. It’s a word we often avoid in conversation because it’s uncomfortable; at least that has been true for me. I’ve adopted my definition of spirituality from New Ventures West, where I very intentionally chose to become a professional certified coach because of philosophic alignment. NVW defines spirituality as “The ability to sense the interconnectedness of life, and to meaningfully live from a context and purpose beyond the survival and success of one’s own self. This includes living life in compassionate service to others.” This definition really works for me. 

Since I’m ready to own it in public, outside of my snow globe, I put my commitment here in writing: I will continue to make space for contemplation, where chronos can fade away and give kairos a chance to flourish. I commit to this as a spiritual practice to continue becoming the person I want to be with and to more fully live my life in compassionate service to others.

“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.” –Wendell Berry

Whether these ideas resonate for you or don't, I'd love to hear about your experiences and perspectives.

Want more?

Read or listen to "Living in Deep Time," an Interview with Richard Rohr by Krista Tippet of On Being
Delight in Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings by our Dogs and Cats, by Eckhart Tolle (author), Patrick McDonnell (illustrator)