Lenten Journey with Mary

Theotokos, ladder to the One.
by Virginia M. Kimball, S.T.D. | Source:

Theotokos, Ladder to the One


Jacob … came to a special shrine at Bethel, from Abraham’s time, staying there for the night because the sun was going down. He took one of the stones in the shrine to put it under his head for a pillow and then he lay down to sleep. He dreamed there was a ladder set up from earth, reaching up to heaven. And, behold, angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (Genesis 8:11-12)

Dreaming, Jacob saw God’s promise:
Behold, I am with you and protect you
for wherever you go, I will not leave you! (Genesis 28:15)
Dreaming, seeing transcendence in El,
immanence in Adonai, earth’s connection:
the holy Realm of covenant, in motion
up and down along a ladder,
angel messengers descending,
angel advocates ascending.

If I ascend to the Heavens, you are there. (Psalm 139:8)
Who is our connection, our Jacob’s ladder,
accompanying us, protecting us? She sees
the Numinous One, singing in His sight:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
now the earth can touch God’s glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

Yet, having ascended, she descends;
with our mother, we sing: To you I lift up
my eyes, to One enthroned in Heaven! (Psalm 123:1)
She is our ladder, mother He took home,
leading us along the Way: Our help in the name
of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)
Still we lament and sleep on a rock in this earthly space,
pleading: Let us go to His dwelling place,
let us worship
at the footstool, (Psalm 132:7)
always clamoring,

climbing to Life’s rule.


Reflection on the image:
In the early centuries of the church, theologians often used Old Testament events to describe the mystery of the Virgin Mary. In this ancient Coptic icon tradition, we see Jacob's ladder, a ladder in his dream that connected Heaven and earth. To the fathers of the church in the early centuries, Mary is the ladder and the one who connects Heaven and earth. If we reflect on Jacob's dream we probe the mystery of how God comes to us as the Incarnate Son, and was born in the world by a human mother. In her body and in her life, she is the ladder, the way we can find the way to Heaven.


Check out the all the
Lenten Journey with Mary meditations.


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