I stated in a previous post that I would be reading Thirty Steps to Heaven for Lent this year. I've always enjoyed the vision of the Ladder as it offers us as Orthodox a visual of steps to take on our journey in becoming closer to God. For my readers who are not Orthodox, Saint John Climacus, also known as Saint John of Sinai and St. John of the Ladder, wrote a document for the monastic at Sinai in which has been known as wonderful guidance to not only monastics, but to the layman as well. Vassilios Papavassiliou has written a guide for us average person to go along with the Ladder of Divine Ascent- a little more easily understood and relative to those of us not taking monastic vows so to speak. In other words, ordinary folk living within the world that may have some difficulty understanding the words of Saint John or how to apply it to our daily lives as spouses, mothers, homemakers, homeschoolers and parishioners can now more easily learn and accept the challenges offered by the words of St. John.
The author does well to remind us that the climb is not necessarily in order rung by rung. So those of us that have not obtained the mastery of renunciation, the first step, do not have to feel we are stuck forever on the first rung. In reading the book, I must admit I'm probably stuck on them all thus far- and I'm only halfway through. The author goes on to say that very few people will be able to climb all 30 steps of the ladder. In fact, if you think you have, he says, you probably need to go back to the beginning.
I could probably write an entire blog on just this book alone. I have a feeling it will be a starting point for many future posts. It will definitely be on my shelf of books to reread. This one may become well worn in time.
In the meantime, if you haven't read it yet, I urge you to do so- Orthodox or not. It is packed of great wisdom on how to live this life always thinking of our relationship with God and keeping in mind that all we do or don't do affects that relationship.
God wants us to have a child's heart. Thus St. John tells novices of the monastic life to look to infants as their example. We can take this to apply equally to adult converts or nominal Christians who have only now decided to make a beginning of spiritual life. God ants us, though grown up with adult minds, having knowledge, wisdom, and understanding , to be like children: "Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3).