“Some days you will be the light for others, and some days you will need some light from them. As long as there is light, there is hope, and there is a way.” —Jennifer Gayle
What made the bank teller a teacher?
My favorite bank teller happens to be an ex-executive of a British cruise line, who somehow washed up onshore in Oregon. Every time he helped me with money transactions, I wondered what made a British man choose to live in the state capitol.
So I asked for his story.
Malcom loved his work and his high-sea adventures. His job afforded him travel to places that he would never otherwise see. He met interesting people and explored exciting places. It was his dream job.
But while serving on one particular cruise, his life changed. He met a woman from Oregon, and they fell in love. We hear of these occasions where it is kismet, or fate. Regardless of the logic or circumstances, the relationship was already sealed.
But it was a quandary. She loved her upwardly mobile life in Oregon. He loved the advantages of international travel. At first, they decided to continue their separate work lives but still see each other when they could.
But that is only half of what love is. They knew it. Malcolm realized that his heart’s desire lay more in Oregon than it did on the open seas.
It wasn’t long before he left the cruise line and moved to Oregon to be with the woman he loved. She continued to move up in her job, achieving one of the highest ranks available. He now works part time at the bank and takes care of the daily needs of the children.
While some may view this as a demotion in Malcom’s life, he has an entirely different perspective:
“I held her ladder steady,” he says. Thanks to his loving contribution to her life, she met her dreams. And even though he traded in his sea legs to be a bank teller, he has found joy in his new life on shore.
The art of soul searching
Malcom’s story resonated deeply, inviting me to question my own life. I wondered, “Have I ever held the ladder steady for anyone? Have I ever felt a desire to sacrifice something very important to me in order to enhance the life of another?”
My husband and I had a comfortable household with a steady income. I thought that we held the ladder for the other, but I realized that in reality, he held my ladder steady as I traveled and worked weekends and evenings. I know many husbands who would not have tolerated high pressure and time consuming lifestyle. Now I see that it was the core of love that held that my ladder steady. Only now do I realize that sharing his light helped keep mine ignited.
I did not raise children, but I know many parents who stepped away from their own path in order to hold the ladder for their offspring. I have also witnessed friends hold the ladder for each other, like the women in my weekly women’s praise circle did for my friend Nancy (name changed for privacy).
Nancy joined our circle depleted by deep grief and debilitating physical challenges. She lost two best friends in two weeks to unanticipated death. She had a neurological disorder that surgery had not been able to fix, thereby making it impossible for her to perform her profession, or even do physical activity that she always loved to do.
Each woman in our group began to explore how she could hold Nancy’s ladder steady as Nancy began her journey to wholeness. One by one, we found something we could add to her healing. One woman took her to spiritual events that raised her spirits through positive message and group support. One offered her the use of a retreat house. Another cooked larger meals, sharing half with Nancy. Together, we collected donations from our group that resulted in a rather generous gift card to Trader Joes.
One of the women in the circle says of the experience, “We each had a rung of the ladder.”
Nancy wrote this week, “I am beginning to find my own light again.”
“In the deepest sense, holding the ladder steady… runs through layers of our being into that place in us that reaches out to another in a deeply loving way.”
It is part of the Soul’s code
Being a ladder-holder is part of who we are—woven in the inner layers of our self, which reaches out to others in a spirit of compassion and connection. It is part of our soul essence, the code of love.
Holding the ladder enables us to access our Light. It is a place that fully realizes our connection to others, to everyone. It manifests itself in our generous life choices. More importantly, it is a celebration of the sacred act of unity.
As I become more in tune with the love energy where my soul resides, I am more able to engage in my purpose—to be aware of the love I can give to people who need support. Staying present to the possibilities is our task. Then we can lift each other upward energetically from that place of holy ground, simply by holding that ladder.
(Photography by Caren Ann Jackson)