The Ladder

Lara Schopp Articles, Carla Aday, Senior Minister Blog

If there are a
“chosen few”
Then I am not
one of them,
If an “elect,” well then
I have not been elected.
I am one who is knocking
At the door. I am one whose foot
Is on the bottom rung.
But I know that Heaven’s
Bottom rung is Heaven
Thought the ladder is standing on the earth where I work
By day and at night sleep
With my head upon a stone.

Wendell Berry, This Day Collected and New Sabbath Poems

Some days, I read a Wendell Berry poem as a prayer. This one particularly hooked me. I love imagining that the ladder we climb to heaven is heaven itself, even if our feet are on the bottom rung. And I am prompted to ask where in the middle of real life, this ladder is propped up.

For me the screened-in porch is one of the places where the ladder stands. The screens have some holes in them and one screen flaps loose in the breeze where the dog dislodged it. Spider webs form in the corners. But the gentle summer breeze and the ceiling fan keep it a cool place to sit at dawn or dusk. We eat our breakfast there and listen to the morning bird songs. I write my sermons there some weeks. In the evening we sip a drink and neighbors stop by for a visit uninvited and unannounced. It has become our favorite room of the house. It is hard to rush on a screened in porch. It invites a slow down.

Summer’s long days invite us to pause and pay attention to the ladder. Both “where we work by day and at night sleep.” Where in your daily routine do you place your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder that leads to heaven? Is it reading a bed time story to a toddler at night or watching children splash and squeal in delight in the pool? Is there a task or responsibility at work that brings you joy? Or a part of your personal rhythm of daily rest that brings the ladder of heaven into focus again? If so, place a stone there to remember that the holy invades the ordinary, when we have eyes to see.

Grace and Peace,