Monday, April 19, 2010

Gentler than a ladder

I am just shepherding a group of curious kids down from the meeting-house attic. They had begged to see what I had once described as an amazing space. They could not, did not, wait for me and had someone else let them up. I hear their feet overhead and see that it is a concern to others, so I stop what I am doing (one of about three after-worship tasks) and race to the bottom of the pull-down stairs, carefully climb them to see the kids have pulled out a straw hat and cane and are doing a dance routine. Cute, but inappropriate.

I tell them they should have waited for me and that this is a tour, not playtime and convince them to descend. Funny, the frivolity ends at the top of the steep steps and I carefully guide them down. Once down, I am chatting with a number of people crammed into the small space at the bottom of the steps. I – almost unconsciously – begin to fold the ladder back. What happens next doesn't really register: the stairs unfold themselves and head toward me. There's nowhere to move, so I duck. But, darn, they crack me on the head anyway. I am immediately stunned, yet don't fall over or black out. No blood. I stumble out of the small space as tears flood my cheeks. What the heck just happened?

I am carefully tended to; luckily one of the bystanders is a nurse.

I MIGHT INTERPRET IT differently than it if were real life as it was.

The kids are up high playing, unwilling to wait for me to escort them. There is audible concerned expressed below and I feel compelled to bring them down to safety and as I do, I get hurt, stopped in my tracks.

Was I interfering? Why did I feel such a burden of care (perhaps because I had told them about the attic)? Why were some adults upset and others willing to facilitate the adventure?

There really seems to be a spiritual element and message here. I mean, after all, we' are talking about the attic of a church/meeting house. They kids ascend and descend. For a time, they are dancing above the adults and afraid to climb back down to what the adults view as safety and the kids see as boring and breaking their adventure.

I also see that the ladder literally exerted too much pressure on me, much like how I have let so many commitments in my life lately dictate its shape with very little room for me. And, recently, almost no room for a regular spiritual practice.


A friend at the pool who heard this story asked if I really believed God made that ladder hit me, because I joked that God seems to speak to me through car crashes and accidents. I said no, it's just that I don't seem to listen to the whispers to slow down and things escalate until something almost catastrophic happens to really get my attention. She also said she'd read a good suggestion that instead of writing something like prayer or meditation time into her planner, she writes simply God.

That's much harder to ignore and gentler than a ladder as a reminder.

• To what in my life am I not listening?
• Is there an escalating pattern before I do?
• Do/can I make regular time for prayer/meditation/to be with God/Spirit?
• What happens when I do?
• What happens when I don't?

Can you do this?
And this? What about this?

An automatic
Sure, sure, sure.

How did I get trapped
into this pattern?

For too long
I have staked
my identity on it.

The pleaser,
the one
counts on.

How is
it serving
my ego?

How is it
to the rest of me?

The fault
does not
lie with those

but with me

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