A Ladder of Hope
By: Emily Meeks
It’s cool and dark in the basement and the portal of light from the sole bedroom window draws me closer as I unpack my bag. I sit down on the carpet, hug my knees tight, and feel the bed against my back. I have been wondering about where I may practice centering prayer during our time with friends at a mountain cabin.
I look up and there is a ladder. It rests against silver grading that forms a half circle against the slope of earth. I can feel the light permeate the shadows of the dimly lit basement. My eyes go up each rung of the ladder until I meet branch and sky. I see colors of the changing season in the dangling leaves: persimmon, tangelo, butter and artichoke. What new colors and perspective might we see that have been blocked by the shadows?
I continue to think about this image of the ladder on trails lined with wet leaves and around tables with mugs of hot chocolate and black lavender tea. I ask about the purpose of the basement window ladder. My friend says it’s for emergency escapes, to get to safety if the main floor entrance is blocked. I retrace the rungs of the ladder from the ground to those fall leaves.
“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you,” the words from Job 42:5 surface in our lectionary bible study. The conversation shifts to blindspots and when we may have new recollection of God’s presence. Someone shares how when they were young, they felt a comforting presence when her step mother was mean to her and sent her to her bedroom. She says now, looking back, she knows that she can see that it was Christ with her. This presence lifted her out of fear and comforted her from the pain. We also wonder what it felt like for Bartimaeus to jump to his feet and say to Jesus directly, “Rabbi, I want to see,” and for Jesus to respond with such certainty and clarity, “Go,” “your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:51-52).
The image of the ladder returns. I explore connections between this structure, blindspots and seeing anew. What does Jesus’ ministry share with us about being a crosspiece of hope while inviting others to participate in faith?
I see the round beams of headlights of oncoming traffic and know that I must stop pedaling. These early fall days still hold back morning’s light as we wait for the time to change, as I wait at the traffic light.
The headlights stop, and I see them now from the angle of the pavement in the intersection. I feel the pain radiate down my leg. “It is a dark morning,” she says, “but help is on the way” as she holds my pink jacket close. I cannot stop screaming. She doesn’t let me go, but I do not resist.
I learn what I did not see or hear — a car has hit my bike from behind. My back wheel looks like sculpture art, bent and folded, and detached from the frame. The lady stays to help me get to higher ground, a folding chair that a neighbor brings to the curb, as first responders arrive to examine my injuries.
I do not get to know her name or even thank her. In a moment of pain and fear, she saw me through a blindspot. Her courage, presence and love became a ladder of hope out of the shadows.
Emily Meeks loves finding adventure and connection outside, especially while running, biking, hiking and kayaking. She attends and serves at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.