Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ladder of Life

To all hastening to write their names in the book of life in the heavens, the present book is a surpassing path. Traveling by this path, we shall see that it infallibly guides those who follow its instructions, preserves them invulnerable to every obstacle and presents to us a firmly-based ladder leading us up from the earthly to the holy of holies, at the summit of which is the God of love. St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and proceeded toward Haran. When he came upon a certain shrine, as the sun had already set, he stopped there for the night. Taking one of the stones at the shrine, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep at that spot. Then he had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God's messengers were going up and down on it.

Be at peace with your own soul then heaven & earth will be at peace with you. Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, And you will see the things that are in heaven, for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within your soul...
Dive into yourself and in your soul and you will discover the stairs by which to ascend. (Isaac the Syrian)

A ladder is one of the most curious of creations. Its intent can be seen as both to ascend, and to descend. This makes it the great metaphor for the spiritual life. Christ both descends to hell and ascends to heaven. When we descend into our own being we can be trapped by the attraction to ourselves or we can deny ourselves and traverse to the core of our being and in that case ascend to another state. If the ascent of life is strictly about ourselves we will descend into a world of narcissism and self absorption. This game of ladders is intriguing and is perhaps a mysterious dynamic about whether we see the world upside down or not.

Our Lord and Master was "lifted up before man", affixed to a cross and in that state was viewed as being the lowest of lows, another man condemned by the ruling government to death by crucifixion. He was carefully removed from the cross perhaps by men on ladders.
After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. Luke 23:53

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