Thursday 2 February 2023

"More than Memory" - the felt-desire for Heaven, described in the Fourth Gospel

Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell!

Words spoken at the death of Aragorn, in Lord of the Rings. 

My strong conviction is that I must have "more than memory for my life as-a-whole to be worthwhile, positive, a joy.

Before I became a Christian, the meaning of life depended - ultimately - upon memory; and memory is partial, lacks immersive reality, corruptible by time and disease, gets distorted with use and fades from disuse; and is sooner-or-later lost completely

Thus; if memory is the most we can hope-for; then life is ultimately meaning-less. 

And this is the case even for Tolkien's elves; whose memories are imagined as being as vivid and as immersive as real-life; and far more robust and accurate than a Man's could be. If memory provides the meaning of life; then life must become (as for the high elves) tragic and retrospective, a walking backwards into the future; contemplating visions of that which was good but is no more. 

For me: memory is not enough, and never could be enough. 

What my heart demands for satisfaction (that life may, even in principle, have personal purpose and meaning) is more than memory: and that is creation

Memory is a representation of reality, a copy of what has-happened; but what is needed is that whatever is valuable of reality never be lost from reality; that the past continue to be inhabitable - not just a picture that we contemplate. 

And this is exactly what Jesus seems to be promising in the Fourth Gospel; when he compares the evanescence of this mortal world, with what He has to offer us via death and resurrection.

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you. 

We find here an opposition of the perishability of this world, including memory; and the heart's desire of that which is everlasting; but which is attainable only via the transformation of biological-death and resurrection:

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit

One who insists on clinging to the things of this mortal life - even the best things - can never have more than memory (at best). 

But one who is willing, in faith, to die and follow Jesus Christ; can receive the gift of dwelling in the eternal reality of that which is only contemplated by memory:

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

For we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world!

1 comment:

Passing By said...

Beautiful. Very inspiring in a way that no other modern Christians depict. The harshness of the world, far harsher for some people than others, needs a pathway out and up no matter the cost of Earthly incarnation.