The Ladder

The Ladder

Lent 38


“Climb the corporate ladder!’  Most of us have heard this saying.  It is used as a motivational tool to encourage people to do their best to get ahead.  Have you ever heard someone encourage you to “Climb the Ladder of Love”?  How about “Climb the Ladder of Humanity”?


Ladders are really interesting things.  In 1983, the head of the Occupational Safety and health Administration responded to a consumer complaint after an injury with a ladder.  The letter stated that at that time OSHA did not require manufacturers to put warning labels on ladders.  That one request, however, resulted in many warning labels being affixed to ladders so that manufacturers might protect themselves against cases charging liability.


Today you can find the following on labels:  “Caution”; “Always Face Ladder”;  “Use Both Hands”;  Climb Slowly”; “Not a Step”.  That last one I find particularly interesting because of the definition of a ladder which states:  “A vertical or inclined set of rungs or steps.”


Success is a tricky thing and no two people define it exactly the same.  Failure is not always defined the same either.  Many of us would consider success and failure to be opposites.  Winston Churchill defined success as simply being “going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”


Another warning found on ladders is a warning not to stand on the top step.  Of all such warnings, this is really applicable in our daily living.  We are, after all, only as good as the past sixty seconds.  Our success is not dependent on our past.  Our success will be the results of our present energies and future actions and most of those involve other people.  In fact, true success is not what we do for ourselves but what we do for others.


I have received a few questions during this series about how I respond to adversity.  I feel pain just like anyone else and I do probably more than my share of crying – both sad tears and happy tears.  I do not shy away from emotion.  I think it is evidence that we are alive and my tears simply mean I have a heart.


If you have been a reader of this blog for six months or longer then you know a member of my family was injured most seriously six months ago in an automobile accident.  My first response to that event was prayer and to request others to pray.  Regardless of their religious affiliation or spiritual beliefs, I asked that all I knew or had contact with would say a prayer or think kind thoughts about her recovery.


She remained in a coma for three months and spent another two months in rehabilitation facilities.  The ladder on which I depended to get through this was prayer and music.  Music is a critical part of my life and I mentally respond in songs from musicals to a great many things.  Spill a gallon of milk on the floor will have me singing “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from the musical “Annie”.  Standing in an aisle at the market trying to recall what else I was supposed to buy and I will silently sing in my “Try to Remember” from “The Fantasticks”.  Several years ago a series of tornadoes went through our town and I sang to myself “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel”.


During this period of recovery the song “Bring Him Home” from “Les Misérables” was my nightly prayer – with some words changed.  Music helps me cope and celebrate.  It is a type of trigger, a positive trigger.  Some people paint or write poetry.  Others read or play golf.  The important thing is to find what helps you work the ladder of life.


In his book “The Waves of Life” James A. Murphy wrote:  “No matter how great you ‘think’ you are or how successful you’ve become, never forget those who have lifted you up. Never forget life’s experiences, both good and bad which have shaped you as a person. You’ve had help climbing the rungs of life’s ladder. And, those rungs can break at any time, sending you back down to a place of humility, to remind you of where you came from and how you rose to the top.”  That is great advice!


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