I never really new Wil Mills. Being that I was a Freshman to his Senior while we were at McCallie together in 1988, I know we never had a conversation. Maybe he smiled at me once, or gave me a “Hey, kid.” Maybe not.
I heard through a classmate of his, and a Facebook friend of mine, that Wil died today. Digging around a bit, I discovered that Wil had been a poet. In fact, he’d published two chapbooks, Light for Orphans and Right as Rain.
I also found this, his penultimate journal entry, once he realized he had aggressive terminal cancer. While I only quote a bit of it here, here’s a link to its entirety: It’s worth reading.
In what follows, Wil explains the difference between the Greek terms “Chronos,” or clock time, and “Kairos,” a “more open-ended and expansive” sense of time. I find it absolutely beautiful, and I’m forever grateful to this poet for temporarily pulling this idea from the Kairos and into the Chronos so the rest of us can perhaps get to Kairos ourselves, if for a moment.
“Too often we live only for the clock and fail to notice how, in the absence of incremental time, we would be more able to see the pattern in the rug, how the stained glass windows of our lives make sense as wholes and not as mere pieces.
But no one needs to get a terminal cancer to enter this place. The simplest way to enter the fullness of time is by breathing our words aloud to each other, and often, with love and hope. The miracle of spoken language is that it insists on face-to-face contact, or, in the case of a letter, it brings the speaker’s spirit into the room in a real sense and in real time at the right velocity, the speed of breathing. It has the tempo of people eating a meal together. In this sense, Kairos Time and spoken language are two sides of the same Koinonia [. . .] Don’t be surprised if you feel a new closeness with the person who is reading, or if you find yourself stepping into Kairos, where time is full and always ripe, where every invocation is also the perfect benediction.”