Part 2 of "Jacob's Ladder at Almost 75"
As a child and youth, Jacob's Ladder touched something deep within me. I couldn't have described what it was or why at the time.
Looking back, it was a happy song. We were all climbing. Getting older meant climbing higher, getting taller, becoming mature, successful adult "soldiers of the cross."
"Every round goes higher, higher."
It expressed a joyful innocence and confidence. I had no knowledge of the economic-political origins of the 'spiritual' until much later.
The connection between the slaves' faith, or their understanding of what it meant to be a "soldier of the cross" - the struggle for economic-political liberation, climbing "higher" to freedom in the North - was as far from consciousness as white is from black.
As a 13 year-old, Jacob's Ladder expressed an innocent childhood hope during those hormone-challenging years when ascending the ladder toward adult self-sufficiency felt like a fireman trying to save an 800-pound gorilla in a raging fire. All I could do was stay on the ladder, hoping that human equivalents of angels might be there to catch me when I fell. The closest thing to angels were people like Mr. and Mrs. Kidder and friends who encouraged my upward progress from childhood to adulthood. Surely some progress must be made.
Faith still meant climbing higher on a ladder that was going someplace, as the Genesis story (Genesis 28:10-19a) of the ladder between heaven and earth seemed to say. We were on the upward ladder.
Then, something happened.