The White Marble Stairway


The aged man hunched over his walking stick; hand shading his eyes and squinting up through furrowed brow, he could not see where the white marble stairs led. But he could see blue sky above.

Nervously he used his cane to test the first step. It seemed solid enough, if a little high reaching up to his knee. Intimidated but undaunted, he set the cane down on the white marble and then also leant his fragile frame over it. Using his hands he rolled onto the step and then, pushing up to his knees, he leaned against the next stair to get back on his feet.

All that effort for just one step, but the old man longed to see what was at the top. He felt the blue sky calling his heart upward.

Having conquered his first challenge he felt accomplished, and just a little bit stronger. The next step, however, was even higher than the first: reaching half way up his thigh in height. The old man grit his teeth and furrowed his impressive brow in determination. He had conquered many things in life; he wasn’t about to be outdone by a stair.

Using his cane as leverage, he swung his leg up and rolled his body onto the step. But, as he rolled, the cane was knocked from his grasp and fell to the stair beneath. He lay still, looking at it for a few moments, catching his breath and deciding what to do next.

He could try and climb back down to retreive the cane, or continue his ascent. Looking up at the next step he saw that this one seemed even higher than the last. Standing to his feet, his concerns were well merited: this stair was waist-high. He looked down to his cane and thought about having to go back down for it: would he even want to climb the stair again?

No. He decided to give the next step a shot. Besides, he was feeling stronger than he had in a long time. This challenge was invigorating.

He walked up to the stair and put his hands on top of it. Then, pushing down with all his might he was able to lift himself off the ground and once again roll onto the next platform.

Standing to his feet, the man gave a little hop of triumph: this was an excellent day, and he had already accomplished more than he had been able to achieve in decades. Even if he chose to climb back down now, he could go home proud. But the sky beckoned, and the next step waited. This time chest-high.

Approaching his next challenge slightly intimidated, the man put his elbow over the ledge and tested his strength. Impressed with himself, he gave it a try. A bit of a jump for momentum, a strong push, and a bit of a scramble landed him laughing on his back. He felt so alive!

Standing up with a spring in his step and his chest set out, the man made his way determinedly to the next challenge. Neck-high. He smiled confidently, enjoying what was set before him. Taking a bit of a run and then a jump, he found himself, with some considerable effort, conquering yet another stair.

Once again on his back with a big grin on his face, the young man paused to catch his breath. Getting closer to his goal, his heart started racing with excitement.

Knowing what to expect as he quickly got up, the young man was not surprised to see this step was higher than him. Unable to see over the top, he did not know what to expect, but assumed that since the sky was only blocked by this stair, it must be the final one.

Gathering his strength and giving a couple of warm-up hops, the young man focused his energy and sprinted to the stair. Thrusting himself into a leap he managed to grab the ledge and pull himself over once more. What a day! What an achievement! Now to see the reward for all his hard work! As he turned to look, a pang of disappointment hit his soul. Another stair.

Getting to his feet, he slowly walked over to examine it. Even higher than the last one; if he jumped he could reach his fingertips over the ledge. Feelings of defeat started crowding him. His mind doubting that there even was a view at the end of all this. Skeptically reasoning that the stairs probably carry on forever.

He sighed and looked back down from where he came. Seeing the cane in the far distance…why not just give up? He turned to the stair ahead of him and gave a small hop and a little effort, but he could not conquer it. The young man sat down with his legs over the ledge and started to shift his weight in preparation for making his way back down.

Looking back at the stair that won, he begrudgingly reasoned that he might as well give it his full effort before giving up.

Sprinting and leaping, the young man grabbed the ledge and banged his knees on the wall. Almost crying in pain he desperately wanted to give up. But he scrambled with his legs and pulled with his arms and let out a cry of desperation as he rolled over the top.

The young boy lay crying for a few minutes. That was a lot of effort he had put in and it had been a long day.

When he was done he wiped his tears on his sleeve and turned to see if he had arrived yet. Before him sat yet another stair. And this one was higher than all the rest, standing at over twice his height.

The young boy started crying again, realising he had come all this way for nothing: he would never be able to climb the step.

Peering through wet eyes, the young boy looked out at the scenery he had conquered. All that he had achieved lay beneath him, all that he desired lay beyond his reach: over a simple ledge. Turning back to the stair again he put his hands and forehead against it and wept: a heart’s cry rose from the child’s soul and he cried out, “Daddy! Daddy! Help me! Help me! Please!”

“I’m here, child. I’m here.”

Looking up, the young boy saw an arm reach down to him from over the ledge. He reached above and took a hold. His father’s grip tightened and pulled the young boy over the last stair and into his arms.

“Hello, my son. Let me show you something amazing.”

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Photo by Sam Schooler on Unsplash