A friend of mine clued me in to something years ago that keeps knocking on my door. She called it Jacob’s Ladder. You may recall that account in the Old Testament of Jacob’s dream one night in the wilderness. He saw a ladder reaching up to Heaven with angels climbing up and other angels climbing down.
“I’ve thought about that ladder a lot,” my friend said, “and here’s how I see the rungs: The first rung is called Intuition. It’s an instinctive feeling that Heaven is true although you can’t prove that to yourself or others.” She smiled and added, “If you don’t believe there is a Heaven, even as a state of mind, then you’ll find getting to the second rung of the ladder is quite a stretch, if not impossible.”
“So, what is that second rung?” I asked.
“Well, I call it Hope. You know, once you’ve declared to yourself that Heaven is a fairly solid idea? Then you find yourself hoping that it’s really true and wishing you could get there.”
“I’m well acquainted with Hope,” I said, “but what is the third step?”
“That,” she said, smiling broadly, “is Faith. Faith is a certainty that Heaven exists, even though you can’t see or give proof of it yet.”
“I feel I’ve made it to Faith,” I said. “I’m quite certain that Heaven is, and that it is reachable. But how? That I’m not so certain of.”
“Well, the rung of Faith is where most people get stuck,” my friend said. “You’ll notice you have much company here. So many people cling to this step that it frequently breaks. Often they lose faith but not you, I see. Still we’re inclined to hang around on the rung of Faith because the next rung is a steep one.” My friend shook her head sadly and added, “It’s easy to believe something you can’t prove. It takes Understanding to prove that the good you believe in is true. To understand Heaven is to be willing to work to achieve that understanding. It takes interest, time, study, prayer, inspiration, humility, obedience, diligence, and countless other good qualities. But once you understand, then you see that you’ve been in Heaven all the time; only sleep and dreams have blinded you to it.”
“I’m working on that.” I said. “I'm finding it easy to believe in as a theory, but I know it will take much more of those qualities you mentioned. So can you tell me about the next rung in the ladder?”
“It’s called Fruition in my book,” my friend said. “Understanding enables you to use what you’ve learned just as with mathematics. It gives you proof of your hope and faith. Proof in healing whatever comes into your consciousness that is not good and true.”
My friend’s eyes lit up just then as if she were seeing something wonderful. “Look!" she said. "Can you see the next step after Fruition? That’s Reality, the top rung in the ladder. Reality is Heaven.”
I thought I could see it then and after a bit I had to ask, “How do you account for the angels coming down the ladder? Why would they want to leave Heaven?”
“That’s easy,” she said. “The angels going down the ladder know that Heaven is everywhere and they’re coming down to tell us who we really are. You see they are our true selves who have no shady past. What a discovery that is! Like the proverbial prodigal son we too will come to ourselves, remember our perfect origins and claim our sonship and daughter-ship of God. That angel coming down to meet us is here to guide and comfort us. In fact,” (and here my friend whispered,) “You think I’m just a friend but I am more than that. I’m your real self, your angel from on high, and I’ve been with you all along. I’m not just your better self, I’m your only self!”
I was startled to hear that, but couldn’t deny it. She looked like me, only better than I ever imagined myself to be. “Then this imperfect sense of me I’ve been struggling along with, who is she, an angel-in-training?”
“I guess you could say that,” she said with a motherly smile.
“Well,” I said, “let’s get going then. I’m ready to give this next step another try or two or three or as many more it takes. Will you stay with me and give me a boost now and then?”
“Of course, my dear child. That’s my work and play. I always go with you. We’ll reach the top for sure, be it slow or fast. I won’t leave you, even if you should fall. I'll be there to pick you up.”
I must have blinked then for suddenly I realized that the one I thought was merely my friend was my angel, my true self.
I’m thinking right now that the view on this ladder from the rung called Faith is beautiful but once in a while the rung breaks and the angels on it tumble down. I don’t want to get stuck here half way even if it doesn’t break. The next rungs of the ladder, Understanding and Fruition, are waiting to give me far better views. Besides I’ve always wondered what it might feel like to reach the top and find Heaven, which I’ve suspected all along was my original Home. Just imagine Who I'll find there! Why should I put that off?
Say, do angels really have wings and fly? Maybe they don’t even need wings. Or phones. Or grocery markets. Or bodies that need our constant attention and still wear out.
Pardon me, I can hear my other angel calling. She’s saying, “Perk up, girl! Don’t get dreamy and speculative again. Work is a word that has not yet become obsolete! When you work the right way you can even call it play.”
I love that better angel of me, the one that’s won her wings of joy and glory. She will lead me home to Heaven. If I stay close to her I’ll never find myself in that other state. Shhh! You know, ...it too starts with the letter H, but I never could believe in that, much less long to go there!
“What are you muttering about now, dearie?” my angel-self is saying. “By the way, there are plenty of litter bins along the way. Be sure to drop your trash in them. Everything gets recycled these days.”