I don’t like them.
As a teenager we lived in a big old turn of the (previous) century house with stairs going up, from the ground floor, to a second storey where the bedrooms were & another set of stairs going down into a huge basement where the TV and table tennis table was kept.
Yes, stairs always takes you somewhere, but they also take you away.
Maybe being taken away from where we are is what our obsession is about.
Being taken away from the current reality.
Maybe that is why we have such an obsession with heaven and a life after this one. And not only Christian believers, Muslim and Jewish believers as well. We all have this thing about a life after this one.
A better life.
A life different.
Stripped of pain, disappointment & hardship.
We’re so obsessed with this life, this new life, this second life, this alternate life, we even strive to create it now. Here. In this time. Constantly ‘going places’. Reaching. Trying.
What we are trying to create is ‘comfort’.
It is so ingrained in our DNA, as our financial position improves, a major part of our resources are spent on buying comfort. Even our technology and innovation is aimed at making it easier, not necessarily simpler, but easier.
And yet, we do not find a comfortable way to live.
We struggle forward from moment to moment.
If we’re lucky, we have isolated small pockets of ‘comfort’ hidden away in parts of our life, but for the most we battle ahead.
Attempting to go places by climbing that stairway.
Not the corporate one.
We don’t like that one.
NOt me anyway.
Too set in stone & stripped of creativity.
The stairway to heaven.
Or a heaven.
Be it here and now and material or someday, somewhere & spiritual.
Interesting, even those who long for a ‘spiritual-one-day-in-the-future’ kind of heaven populate their idea with material images, be it the hundred beautiful virgins of the suicide bomber or the streets paved with gold of the devout Christian.
For me those un-Biblical images hold no appeal.
I do long for something different.
In the Christian New Testament the writer of the letter to the people in Rome speaks of creation being subject to a curse.
Of slavery to perishability.
Of death & illness.
Meaningless work & alienation.
Even well-known Karl Marx felt this & tried to create his own ‘heaven’ through socialism as system.
Systems haven’t brought us freedom from this curse.
In fact, I don’t think there is freedom from this curse to be found, in this time.
Except maybe for exceptional moments.
When supernatural involvement gives us a glimpse of what is to come.
The guy who wrote that letter to some people he knew in Rome speaks in the imagery of a woman giving birth. The pain. The contractions. The desperation of two beings being violently ripped apart so that the new being may start a separate independent life.
Have you given birth?
Have you been there when your son or daughter was born.
It is scary.
Supernatural, I would say.
Scary & violent, beautiful & bloody, supernatural & very carnal all at the same time.
And afterwards the mother who gave birth is tired.
She falls back on the pillows, if she has any, she closes her eyes, breathes deep, gives an immense sigh of relief. She holds her baby. She smiles. Even cries.
Something new has begun.
A lot of things are less than ideal.
No, let me rather say it straight, as it is.
This life is broken.
We struggle to make sense of Tsunami’s hitting prosperous islands, of dictators killing innocent women and children, of fathers destroying the souls of daughters they were supposed to nurture.
We struggle to make sense of it as spectators.
We struggle even worse when we are the participators.
The ones being destroyed.
Our pain is emotional.
Our pain is ‘inside’.
We can cope with surviving on little money.
We can get by with a ‘little bit’.
We are resourceful.
We make a plan.
We beg, borrow or steal.
We come up with a new idea.
But somehow our emotional resourcefulness is limited.
So very, very limited.
We cannot cope with the drudgery of meaningless employment.
We cannot cope with destructive relationships.
With partners & parents & friends & employers throwing us away as if we’re discardable dirty rags.
With partners & parents & friends beating us with violent words & ideas & destroying our being.
I’ve been thinking that freedom might be our deepest desire.
The freedom to be who we are deep down inside.
And to be loved for that.
The freedom to be who we are deep down inside.
And to be able to make a living from it.
The guy who wrote that letter to the people he knew in Rome – he speaks of being saved in hope – a hope that cannot be seen.
A hope we are awaiting.
A hope which sees someone living alongside us amidst the curse.
Someone who loves.
Someone who takes everything which is so subjected to this damned curse of persishability and turns it into something without poison.
Something which does not carry death anymore.
A friend, after hearing a bit of my life, says: ‘I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you wait until now to show me? I thought you were one of those. Who have no idea.’
Everyone has an idea.
Everyone is subjected to this damned curse.
Everyone is looking for a way out.
A stairway which will preferably take us ‘up’.
To somewhere better.
Even the illusionist who create that ‘white’ facade of perfection – even they are looking for that stairway through their illusion.
Embracing this is my stairway.
Even if I don’t like stairways.
Perhaps because I do not like them.
Embracing the brokenness as reality.
And sharing in the hope the guy talks about in that letter – a hope I cannot see or prove – that the curse will be lifted & is sometimes lifted even now.
That’s how I got my three children.
That’s how I stumbled upon Zuko.
That’s how I created meaningful relationships without intending to create anything.
My stairway is flat.
It does not reach up to a heaven with golden street & pearly gates or beautiful virgins.
It reaches to this place restored.
It reaches to life de-cursed.
Not life again.
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