I was struggling to connect with God after finishing grad school and moving to Savannah, Ga. It’s not the first time I’ve struggled with this, but this time it was a bit different: it was not me or my willingness, and it wasn’t that God was hiding (something I’ve written about extensively and the subject of the final project for my MA), but it was simply being a mother to a toddler, and pregnant, and all the things that life brings to throw you off your center. Nothing was “wrong.” I just simply couldn’t make the time—and, if I did, I was almost always interrupted.
I prayed a little prayer of frustration one day that was something like, “How am I supposed to meet with you now!?!?” I distinctly heard, right then and there, “Don’t go up, go down.”
I had been trying the old tactics again, like when I had hours upon hours of free time to dawdle through the scriptures and read the books and pray and journal to my heart’s content. That way was not going to work anymore—not in this season. That word (I believe from God) might not make sense to anyone else, but I think he was telling me that I could find him right where I’m at.
Y’all, I should know this. I’ve read Practicing the Presence and The Quotidian Mysteries.* Over the years I’ve met God in all kinds of places, on (literal) high mountain tops, in cathedrals, and while scrubbing the toilet. But we all need reminders, and mine apparently must come frequently. In this season at least, I am meeting with him “down here.”
So, about the ladders. The fact is, they mean what they mean to you when you see them. If they speak to you something else, you are not wrong. But what they mean to me personally is that he comes down when we can’t go up. And that he already did come down. And he’s here right now—we just have to open our eyes.
There are some other images that are sneaking into my art that might show up more in the future: doors, windows, stairways, (and I will never leave my chairs behind.) I like what these are speaking to me, but I’m going to sit with them for a while before sharing.
*The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” by Kathleen Norris are two of my all-time favorites on the subject of meeting God in the commonplace.