Kairos - the perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words, or movement.
During March of my junior year of high school, my life got turned upside down. Everything I thought I had known was blown out of the water. I was forced to reevaluate myself and how I viewed the world. But I wouldn’t have wanted anything else.
Before I ever went on the Kairos retreat, honestly, I was more nervous than excited. I had never spent more than four days away from home (these were the pre-college days), and I was scared to death on how I was supposed to survive on my own for that long. Not only that, but Kairos was clouded in mystery, so I had no idea what to expect. I had grilled my senior friends on the subject, asking them to tell me all the secrets, but somehow they didn’t crack. I guess they knew that what was coming was just too special to spoil.
What I had imagined could not compare to what I actually experienced. Even after I returned back home and to the normal routine of school, I still couldn’t forget what had happened. In that little retreat house, I had experienced friendship like never before. I learned that I wasn’t the only one with problems. I discovered that everyone has a story to tell, even if they're afraid to say it. I found that I wasn’t alone in the world, and that I’d always have at least one person to lean on – actually, make that 30 people. I gained a whole new friend group going into my senior year, some of whom have stayed with me into college.
But, most importantly, I learned to Live the Fourth. I gained confidence in my willingness to express my faith as a Christian, even when it’s tough – and it does get tough. I really learned, and not just in a clichékind of way, to treat the people I meet with kindness. You never know what they’re going through. By Living the Fourth, I live out the ideals that Kairos taught me.
In high school, Living the Fourth was pretty easy. I got the opportunity to lead two more retreats, which were equally as special as the first. I had a solid support system that held the same values and morals as me. Everything was fine.
However, after a whole year of college, I've found that not everyone you meet will help you as you try to Live the Fourth. In fact, in the real world, some people may actually lead you farther away from your goals and make it harder to remember where you came from. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Kairos and the lessons it taught me two and a half years ago, I might have fallen into some deep trouble by now.
But I’ve tried to stay true to myself and, so far, things have worked out pretty well. Trust me, Living the Fourth is not easy by any means. There are going to be people who want to tear you down, make you into somebody you aren’t. The whole idea of Kairos is about going against the crowd and living how you know is right. This means that there will be hardships – it’s a given. It’s how we choose to deal with those hardships that defines us, and helps the spirit of Kairos live on.
For all my fellow Catholic school kids out there (who were lucky enough to have the opportunity to go on Kairos) – take some time to remember how you felt during those four days. Your experience may have been years ago, like mine, or it could have been only a few short weeks ago. Or you may not have even made your retreat yet! Either way, don’t ever let that Kai-High fade away. Stay true to who you are and, of course, always Live the Fourth!
Finally, a special shoutout to K-73, K-75, and K-78. You all changed my life for the better, and I will never forget it.