When Bill was in the hospital all those years ago, I often wondered what was happening to him spiritually. He was out of his mind, so where was his spirit? When he came around, I asked him what he remembered, curious if he had seen or felt anything from the unseen realm. He didn’t remember anything about anything. Just he woke up one day in the hospital. His recollection of the day he woke up was over a month into his hospital stay. So, what of the unremembered month?
While I was deeply in the secret place of God, liquid prayers running down my face, trying to survive, my husband had no recollection of God at all. No thoughts of him. No ability to pray, to seek, or to know him. It left me with a lot of unanswered questions, which have resurfaced now that Mom is the one who cannot remember God.
I have always said that faith is something born in the heart; the deep places within us that long to be known and loved fully. Yet, the mind, the cognitive part of us, is the part that connects these heart feelings with thoughts of God, with questions about eternity, life’s purpose, how and why we exist, and a myriad of others. Those questions are formed within our minds, and within our cognition is where we find our answers. This explains why each person has a unique and personal view of God and why all our life experiences shape our faith journey.
Yet, for all our understanding, the yearning still is heart bound. The longing for more. The pull towards an unseen force. The searching. Our hearts are central to our faith and how far we walk along the path. The heart and our spirit are one and the same. The faith journey is an inner one, which manifests outwardly. Though some teaching has it backwards and makes the outward man the more important one, the deep places in our spirits are where faith is forged through life’s circumstances.
So, when cognition is compromised what then? How do we walk out our belief in God when we cannot remember him? Is it possible? If it is not possible, do we fall from grace? In reality, this dilemma shines a spotlight on grace vs works. When we cannot pray, or seek God, does he walk away from us? Does he abandon us because we cannot worship him? How much of our belief in God depends on what we do for him?
When faced with the cognitive challenges of my husband and now my Mom, I have had more questions than answers about how all the parts of being human interact with the parts of us which are spiritual…separate but interdependent on one another. We are not 100% unless we have both parts, the human part and the spiritual part. But is that really true, when the human part is compromised? Does the spiritual part continue to function even when we are unaware that it is there? These are the thoughts that wake me in the night. My inner mystic draws deep into the search for answers to questions which are unanswerable. I call it insomnia, but it is more like a wrestling match in my mind.
My experience is with two people I love. One was combative and angry in his injury, the other is gentle and laughing in her disease. Both followers of Christ. Both filled with faith. Such differing experiences when the mind was removed from the picture. Yet, both lost their ability to find God or to even speak about what they know of him.
I have come to some conclusions based on my observations. God never lost his ability to find them. Losing us is something God cannot do. We are engraved on his hands. We are deep within his heart. We are a part of him. That is what it means to be IN Christ. To be IN him means we are also OF him, even if our minds cannot comprehend what that means. To be IN him means he is surrounding us, like one drop of water in an ocean. Wrapping us in his arms and his love. So, we can rest IN him.
Mom no longer knows God in her mind, but her heart is IN him. She dwells there. She abides there. Her mind is no longer a hinderance to this kind of resting IN him. She no longer wrestles with if she has done enough, or prayed enough, or worshiped him enough. She is IN him now, and He IN her.
This union of the spirit happens when we choose to entrust our whole being to him, and is evident now, more so than when the mind was racing to keep up. The seeking journey that is life, is ended and now the found journey has begun. For her, it is earlier, while she is still with us. For others, it is later, once the body has ceased to function. Either way, the found journey is the one we all reach for throughout our lives, however, until we arrive at a place where our minds are no longer part of the equation the seeking journey is an adventurous one.
Following wherever he leads us, in the light, in the darkness, through the clarity or through the fog. We follow the path and seek his footsteps ahead of us on the trail. Once we are found, we can cease our seeking and rest in our foundness. It is what Bill did when his mind was missing. It is what Mom is doing now. Trusting without knowing. Resting without striving. Being. Being present in spirit, even without the cognition of the mind.
We cannot be lost to God, even if we lose him, he will never lose us. This brings me great comfort in the roads I walk with my loved ones, or which I myself may have to walk one day in the future. We can be secure in our trust of him. It is his grace that has found us, it is his grace which sets us free. Grace is not dependent on our minds, or our bodies for that matter. It is its own entity. It wraps its arms around us, and holds us steadily and completely because it is formed by Love Himself.
Sing for joy, O heavens and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and has compassion on his afflicted. But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the child of her womb? Even these will forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Isaiah 49:13-16.