Jacob’s Ladder from Genesis 28: 10-19 describes a dream of the prophet Jacob who sees angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth and is told God will always be with him. There are many interpretations from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob%27s_Ladder
Last night I meditated upon Father Joseph Tetlow’s four spiritual dynamics, from his handbook, Choosing Christ in the World. The dynamics he describes are:
Christlife–people who live selflessly for others out of their Christian understanding.
Humanism (natural)–people who want to help others out of their common humanity.
Sarx–people who choose pleasure no matter the cost to anyone else or to the planet.
Darkness–people who choose evil.
I saw these dynamics as rungs on a four-runged ladder with its base immersed in a dark pit full of tar. The bottom rung was broken.
People, I thought, born into the world are on the second rung of sarx, a life of the flesh. It is quite a distance from the bottom rung of darkness, evil. People on this worldly rung, sarx, are on the surface of the world which is full of awe and wonder, a place to be enjoyed, a place to relish, and also a place of superficial awareness. Here on this surface plane of the earth, we meet many others, and we can choose to fellowship with them or use them for our own selfish pleasure.
In The Guardian, a TV series, I was shocked to see a porn/prostitution ring that kidnapped young girls and boys, drugged them, forced them to do unspeakable things, raped them, filmed them nude, and moved them from place to place to avoid being caught. Not only were the perpetrators stepping on the broken rung, all those who frequented such a place, or bought the porn, etc were also stepping on that rung, in a descent into perpetual darkness.
But to enjoy life and love others enough to share what we have is a step up towards the next rung, that of humanism. The rung of humanism led atop a mountain where one could see the whole world, and awesome though it was, it was also from this view, seeing how much people struggle between life and death, both physical and spiritual, that many choose to try to alleviate the suffering, and are indeed humanists.
Above them was the top rung that disappeared into the clouds. Here, people united with God in the sun, becoming bearers of life-giving light. Here was Christlife.
This representation of the spiritual ascent to God is Biblical and also masculine. I am wondering what a feminine view of spirituality might look like? Perhaps a spiral? It would arise from birth, from bringing into the world, rather than climbing up a ladder of success. It might go around and around in an embrace of all that is good. How would evil look in this spiritual representation? Perhaps as a broken loop–dropping one into an abyss, into the void of nothingness, not of an ineffable God, but of invisibility and helplessness. Christlife might look like birth, messy and painful, the rising up of new life with immeasurable potential.