Back to Eternal Memory index


The thing that happens and then
stops happening, or at least
happens differently nonetheless
in the memory, though
as a sort of shadow, but,
if we imagine it as it would be
in God's memory, holding
everything about it, not just
all that has stopped happening
but also
all that is to happen,
then, well, I for example
cease to be a walking
unpredictability or
'walking nostalgia'
(Gary Numan dixit) but instead
a fully rounded form,
leaving the question:
Is that fully rounded form
in God's memory really me? Or my
mirror or, alternatively, am 'I'
merely the mirror
of that
fulness of being that is, after all
the Kingdom of Heaven?
Eternal memory?
But now on the day of this Great Feast,         
let us imagine that memory, that
(as Parmenides remarked to the young
Socrates) knows
for all eternity even
the dust beneath our fingernails,
walking, as Ivanov imagined Him,
down the mountainside towards
the crowd gathered about the River Jordan,
all of whom
He already embraced,
all of them already present as
Nathaniel in the garden,
as I am too, present
to Him Who is
Presence Himself
- this is not just any old
natural force incarnate,
and John, he who had leaped
in his mother's womb, knew what
that dot on the horizon was,
he who was charged with cleaning
charged with baptising
not just the King
but the Kingdom (they being
one and the same),
hence Ephrem's great image of the Ocean
washed in a muddy stream
which of course we can understand if, instead
of thinking of our
glorious presence in His
stream of consciousness we think
of His poor presence in ours.
And then there is Symeon,
taking in his aged arms
that Ocean in which
he is himself
a fish or at least
something living that lives
within and because of
that Ocean looking at him
through the eyes of a child -
a child in Whose memory
Symeon exists more totally
that any human eye could see.
How could the Baptist's hand
not tremble as he sprinkled
water on the ocean, and how
could Symeon hold steady
that Enormity, that
hand that stretches out
the Heavens like a tent
and we are expected to believe,
which is to say to hold
all that in our own
Easy it is to imagine
our smallness in relation
to large numbers - hard
it is to hold in mind
our presence
in the child
Symeon today
holds in his arms -
and now
we enter into Lent -
preparation for the glorious
remembering of the entry
of Memory into
that land that is forgotten,
death being
a rupture in the continuity
of memory, the dead being
no longer there
in front of our eyes
so that they acquire
a rather shadowy existence
rather like Christ
so that our minds
rather resemble
Hades, populated as they are
by shadows.
But here in the midst of this life-long
three-day burial, an angel announces
the beginning of that Child who,
holding Symeon and John secure in His arms
through all eternity will one day look at them
through human eyes, and so
at the very moment of preparation for
the descent into Hell we have
that other descent, the descent
into the womb - the Child,
the immensity of that
great oak (and now
I'm thinking just of you and me)
lying, comfortable and tiny
as a seed, so once again we come
face to face with our image, as in a very old
dusty mirror which suddenly
is cracked, when He and I
'die'. But Easter is a restoration
of things as they are, which is to say
that being what we are becomes
a possible task and we
are once again united
- oh so hazily this side of the grave -
with our own
image - that image which will soon be seen
radiant on Mount Thabor,
for it would be wrong, surely, to see
the Transfiguration as God's
transfiguration. The Light, we know,
(Gregory dixit) is of the nature
of God, but the figure
is our figure, is us, as we are,
radiant, bathed as we are in God's
eternal memory, and that figure
is a body - eyes and ears
and nose and arms
and legs and prick
and bum, coughs, heartburn,
potential arthritis - a real
functioning mechanism - His gift
to us and ours,
in the person of the Virgin,
to Him, and so
the womb that gives birth
to a child gives birth
to an entity clothed
with honour and majesty
stretching out
the heavens like a tent
an entity
covered with light
as with a garment,
an entity
remembered, eternally