At the site of Bethel in Palestine there used to be a visitor centre, situated near the spot where (according to Genesis) Jacob had his vision of a staircase to heaven. The building lies in ruins now but the staircase remains. Tired of a broken and sad world, I climbed up a little way. I did not mean to go far – just to leave life behind for a while.
In Jacob’s time apparently, the stairs were thronged with angels ascending and descending (I remember the picture in my Children’s Bible). However, those days are long gone. I met one who was kind enough to stop and talk for a while as we took in the view of the earth’s curve, spread out below us. He said that most of his colleagues work undercover and are rarely recognised.
I’ve left the world far behind now. Our heaven no longer has Dante’s seven planetary circles or the wheeling lights of the empyrean. Instead there is this infinite expanse of dark empty space between vast masses of rock and gas. But I’m not worried. The silence is comforting and ahead of me, up the stairs, is the tiniest twinkling star.
I’ll keep climbing.