Where is our memory stored? The materialist’s answer is in the hippocampus of the brain for long-term memories and the neocortex of the brain. A more subtle answer would say that all memory is stored in the deeper level of consciousness. Alan Wallace said we don’t think that the memory of a computer is stored in the keyboard. Why should we think the brain makes us conscious?
Living in Australia, one of the places I practised nursing was in the Southern Cross Residential Home. One lady who was one of my patients suffered from late-stage Alzheimer’s and could not communicate at all. Her daughters decided they would tell her that her husband, their father, had died although they knew she would be unresponsive. She was chattering meaninglessly, appeared to be in another world, but when they told her of her husband’s death, she stopped chattering and tears rolled down her cheeks. That may not prove anything scientific about memory, but it suggests something about consciousness surviving the atrophy of the brain just as it has been shown to survive the clinical death of patients under medical care. To see someone whom we have lived with and loved for a lifetime lose their memory and drift away from us, is dying while alive. Through this pandemic of the coronavirus, we grieve over the countless lives lost. Death seems to be ever-present with us in these days. We pass through death at many levels of intensity in our lifetime (Psalm 23). And yet as with this patient of mine, there is a core of consciousness that connects us together. Even when all the signs show that awareness has flickered out.
The persistence of deep memory – and love is a kind of memory continuously remembered and renewed – does not negate death. Love like faith is eternal. This is because God is Love itself, and God is eternal. And our faith in Christ is something that is deep within our consciousness that goes beyond our physical death, allowing heaven to touch the earth. Deep memory/consciousness transcends death and shows that life is a great constant beyond physical death. Life is inextinguishable, we are eternal beings. Consciousness itself is life, and memory shows that love to be stronger than death. Personal relationships teach us this. So does Jesus Christ, who teaches that we are transmission in a stream of consciousness of a living memory that connects us to our source, who is God, connects us to each other, while carried forward on our individual journey. For all of us today our individual journeys in life are connected by the threat and fear of the coronavirus. For some of us, it has already meant the death of loved ones. For all, it triggers the awareness of our mortality and the uncertainties of change that we cannot control.
In such dark times, however, the memory of life experienced as a spiritual journey beginning and ending in mystery, full of inexplicable pain and joy but also full of wonder. It is faith in the end that frees us from fear. We are first exposed to our real predicament: of not having a spiritual path in times like this, lacking a source of meaning, not seeing the spark of life hidden in the darkness of our deaths. All these are symptoms of another virus rampant in our materialism and delusion. Faith in Christ is the remedy which overcomes the fear of death and dying.
Our spiritual life cannot be separated from our everyday existence, being isolated at home with others or alone: we can make a realistic timetable including the things you need and want to do and post it where you will see it through the day. Consider if it feels balanced for your daily needs. Does it represent your everyday regular needs? Such as physical needs, mental needs and spiritual needs?
Adjusting to a daily rhythm to fulfil your basic human needs is a first step to getting a handle on the feeling of fear, panic and uncertainty. It is a step to curing the virus of fear and panic. It helps us to see health, death and spirituality differently even amid a pandemic. When we have re-connected to the sense of the present, trusting in God, we will find that peace – the peace we lost in all that stress – is closer to us, deeper within us, than we had ever imagined
Stay Safe, Shalom
From Rev Paula Rose Parish x