I am a pastor. My work has to do with God and souls—immense mysteries that no one has ever seen at any time. But I carry out this work in conditions— place and time—that I see and measure wherever I find myself, whatever time it is. There is no avoiding the conditions. I want to be mindful of the conditions. I want to be as mindful of the conditions as I am of the holy mysteries.
Place. But not just any place, not just a location marked on a road map, but on a topo, a topographic map—with named mountains and rivers, identified wildflowers and forests, elevation above sea level and annual rainfall. I do all my work on this ground. I do not levitate. “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Get to know this place.
Time. But not just time in general, abstracted to a geometric grid on a calendar or numbers on a clock face, but what the Greeks named kairos, pregnancy time, being present to the Presence. I never know what is coming next; “Watch therefore.”
I don’t want to end up a bureaucrat in the time-management business for God or a librarian cataloguing timeless truths. Salvation is kicking in the womb of creation right now, any time now. Pay attention. Be ready: “The time [kairos] is fulfilled . . .” Repent. Believe.
Staying alert to these place and time conditions—this topo, this kairos—of my life as pastor, turned out to be more demanding than I thought it would be. But Montana gave a grounding for taking in the terrain and texture of the topo. And John of Patmos showed up in New York City at the right time; the city was a midwife to assist in the birthing, at my come-to-term pregnancy, my kairos, as pastor.