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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Held in the divine memory

Here is the piece I wrote for this week's parish newsletter at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

During the recent Living with Dementia evening at St Martin-in-the-Fields several people expressed the hope that has been articulated well by scientist and priest, John Polkinghorne, that "the immensely complex ‘information-bearing pattern’ (memories, character, etc) carried at any one time by the matter of my body ... is the soul and, though it will dissolve with the decay of my body, it is a perfectly sensible hope that the faithful God will not allow it to be lost but will preserve it in the divine memory in order to restore its embodiment in the great divine act of resurrection."

I was reminded by this of the parables Jesus told in which a sheep, a coin and a son, respectively, are lost. Each story ends with rejoicing over the finding again of that which was lost. These stories hold out the possibility that, in God, nothing is lost. Certainly, the importance to Jesus of that which was lost being found is emphasised by his choosing to tell three different stories on this same theme.

In the context of a condition like dementia in which memory is progressively lost, it could be a source of some hope that nothing is lost and that all we are and have been is held in the divine memory. If we are, in some sense, as Psalm 139 suggests, fearfully and wonderfully made by being formed or knit together by God in our mother’s womb; if our frame is not hidden from God when we were being made in secret, if God’s eyes beheld our unformed substance, and if all the days that have been formed for us were written in God’s book when none of them as yet existed, then it would follow beautifully and logically that those memories and knowledge would be retained in the divine memory for eternity. Maybe, as the saying goes, nothing lasts but nothing is lost.


Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends Theme.

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