The ancient Greek word kairos means the decisive moment for taking action.
In the Gospels, kairos designated the time of conversion, when a believer accepts God's grace.
I've been contemplating the word's various meanings since coming across it in Karen Cooper's review in the Times Literary Supplement of Simon Goldhill's book, "The Christian Invention of Time: Temporality and the Literature of Late Antiquity (Greek Culture in the Roman World)."
The word is similar to "ephiphany," originally referring to the Wise Men's visitation of the Christ child. The term was later associated with James Joyce's short stories in "The Dubliners," defining the sudden insight that changes a character's life.
Cooper in her review used kairos in discussing Cassandra's awareness in Aeschylus' play "Agamemnon" that she and her husband Agamemnon would be murdered by Clytemnestra, the Greek leader's first wife.
Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy by the god Apollo. When she refused Apollo's advances, he gave her the curse that none of her predictions would be believed. She foresaw the fall of her native Troy to the Greeks, but the Trojans didn't believe her.
Kairos originally meant the right time for the archer to release the arrow to hit his target.
For Cassandra, kairos meant an awareness of a horrible, unavoidable fate.
It's one of those words that contains multiple meanings and deep relevance to our lives. It's the point of no return, the time of decision when a course of action is irrevocably pursued.
The word holds extraordinary symbolism for Holy Week and Easter. Kairos can arrive in the silence of our hearts.