Monday, October 5, 2015

The memory of time

 Cycladic figurine, circa 2600 BC
 Metropolitan Museum, New York
 photograph by the author

As I mentioned in the last post, I'm immersed — among other things — in reading about Mediterranean culture. Having spent a lifetime of traipsing through museums, archaeological sites, and so on, I felt I ought to devote more than cursory attention to this period in Western history; and it has been well worth the effort. There is far more to the story than Egypt, Greece, and Rome — oh yes, and that Babylon place. It turns out that mankind's cultural history in this region spreads further and runs deeper than any history can tell, because so much of the history is lost to us. We see only tiny fragments of where we came from. It's as though we only ever saw a single fingernail cut from the pinky of one of our parents, and felt thereby we knew our family.

Somewhere folded deep within the curves of our flesh and bone, we hold a memory of time that is deeper than what we think.

It is in our cells; it is written in every strand of DNA. There are times when those strands of chemistry vibrate in such a way that one senses one's life connected to time itself — and one can reach back within to the gravity that drew our ancestors towards the earth they walked upon. That gravity is common to all of us; we have it inside us. It connects us to the planet; it connects us to each other — and, I daresay, it connects us to God, in such a way that when God is present, there can be no argument about it.

This is, of course, generally unknown; yet it is true, in ways that science cannot mark with instruments.

 What good can that do us? Some might ask. Yet what more can we want to know than to know, in a different way, how much more alive we are than we think we are? When we live from deep within ourselves towards the outside, it is not the same as living from outside ourselves towards the depths within. Both are necessary; each one forms a relationship with gravity. One of them receives, the other gives. But the reciprocity must exist within our sense of time and gravity. If we are not within the sense of time and the sense of gravity in daily life, we forget we are alive. This is how I find it.

I hope each reader who shares these thoughts and ponderings with me will take care, and find a moment to love something deeper in themselves today.


Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.

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