Issue 10 Editorial

The other day I was out with a friend for a lunch time walk and we passed a building where we had attended a function several years ago. I reminded her of what had happened on that occasion and she said, ‘You have an amazing memory.’ That set me thinking about memory. At one level I do have a good memory, but I am increasingly aware that as humans we mostly function at quite a superficial level of memory. Despite our ability to recall various events and experiences in our own life time we carry within us a far deeper, richer
and more nourishing memory to which we rarely attend.

The skies that enchant us, the lands that embrace us, have memorised the chapters of Earth time. These chapters are written into mountains, valleys, forests, bush land, deserts, rivers, flood  plains and lapping seas. The genes in our bodies record the memory of the evolutionary story of life, and through the food we eat we enter into the
mystery of a communion that holds the origin story of all life.

A failure to know and to remember our story is a failure to know ourselves and such a failure leads to a
disconnect between ourselves and our life support systems. All being has its own inner dynamism and built into it is an understanding that life is a gift and that all life is in some way food for another.

As the feature writer in this edition, Pat Long regrets our amnesia. Whilst relishing her own deep appreciation
of the experience of growing food and sharing it in a communal context, she laments the evidence that many are acting as if they are disconnected from Earth. She reflects that this ‘accentuates our hunger rather than relieves it, despite our eating more, having more, using more, demanding more, expecting more’. In contrast she yearns that we might understand that the act of eating brings us into direct contact with the ‘unbroken chain of transformations from the beginning of space and time’.

Gill Baker and Martin Oliver explore particular ethical issues around this disconnect while Bob Phelps, Phil Tattersall and others write of their commitment to projects reconnecting us with our deepest story. Other exciting initiatives bear witness to a strong awareness of Earth’s creative and nourishing  processes. The Permablitz movement is an exciting community project energised by young people who understand the simple solutions to living sustainably, and the Azaadi project pays tribute to the wealth of knowledge and appreciation
of food shared with us by those seeking asylum in our land. In addition, we can read of the spirituality that emerges from an attentiveness to the story of the cosmos as well as the abundant fertility of our backyards.

It would be impossible at this time to focus on memory and not allude to the recent fires and floods that the eastern coast of our continent has experienced in the early months of this year. In addressing the distress of those whose family members were unaccounted for after Black Saturday, the coroner commented that in a pile of ashes it is impossible to distinguish between plant, animal and human remains. Does such a reality not jolt our memory out of the complacency of a human orientated world? In the context of fire and flood we are all part of a community of life.

In the official assessment of damage in the Victorian fires, wild and old-growth forests, along with their abundant flora and fauna, have not yet been counted as losses. They are not understood as assets to life until the water catchments for human consumption are affected. Yet these ecosystems are the context for life and hold the seeds which will begin the regeneration of the system. They hold the memory and exemplify Earth’s self-nourishing capacities.

For those of us who are seeking to recover our long-term memory in terms of the Earth story, there is much hope. Fire and flood do jolt the memory and evoke stories of similar events decades and centuries ago. In the process of recalling these stories we gain insight into the ways in which new life miraculously emerges to suit the new conditions. As regeneration occurs, the interconnected cycle of life will be re-established, inviting us into a deeper awareness that all life – and death – is in some way food for another.