For years now I have experienced a place or a moment in somewhat Proustian fashion: A breeze moves past in a certain way, a certain scent arises in the air, and my body is flooded with a kind of memory, or a recollection...my body, not my mind.
The memory is often without visual image, but always with corporeal sensation...a kinetic image. Walking suddenly into a quality of air or sunlight stirs places in my body, flesh memories returning like a tender, caressing lover. A couple of days ago: raining, stepping onto the #7 tram from Wollishofen to Central, taking a seat on the hard wooden chairs, suddenly being thrust back into time from the touch of the moist air, the movement of steppping up onto the tram, feeling the wood against my back. No visual memory, nothing specific to recollect cognitively, just a sudden journey back into some time, maybe 15 years ago, maybe 40 years ago. Perhaps both.
Trying to pin down the memory is often to no avail. At that juncture everything disappears, memory, sensation, everything. I've learned to just let the feeling come in and to simply notice the quality of feeling, sometimes appearing in the heart or in the throat. Fleeting, though grace-filled. A visitation. Perhaps an annunciation of some secret birth, a sacred child, the presence of whom vanishes under the stress and glare of demanding definition.
I am often under the strain of an existential angst, both personal and collective. These flesh memories are sweet "remembrances of things past," reminding me that there were times, and could be still, and indeed are, when life is actually joy-filled. These visitations seem to open the heart, diminishing the need for defence and protection. They come from the unexpected, from the small and subtle. They allow me an open window into grace.
If I, if we, move too fast, want too much, too soon, these visitations can never be noticed. We rush past them in our relentless search for "The Big Prize." Next time you are curiously stopped in your tracks, next time you feel a hand has gently rested on your heart, or you feel the impression of some unknown remembrance, let that sensation in, let it unfold, let your body lead the way soundlessly into the mystery of that cellular Visitation.
To surrender into not knowing, into the mystery, requires us to become more attentive, to awaken, to be more simply and vitally alive.