The Way Back to Heaven: The Parable of the Crystal Stairs is a thought-provoking book by well-known Latter-day Saint author S. Michael Wilcox.
In the Old Testament book of Genesis, we read the story of the Tower of Babel where the people thought they could get to heaven by building a tower, which they would ascend via a staircase. We also read the story of Jacob’s ladder where he dreamed of a ladder sent from Heaven by God with rungs (referred to as steps by Michael Wilcox) by which he could ascend back to heaven.
In the prologue the author describes a scene where there are countless builders constructing staircases to heaven—unsuccessfully. Ultimately they all collapse after a certain point. And then he describes another staircase that is beautiful and different—different chiefly because it is coming down from heaven and not up from the earth. And unlike the sturdy brick, stone or wood staircases being built elsewhere this staircase is exquisite and looks crystal and delicate.
But as the travelers wonder whether they could actually climb it, the stair builder appears and invites them to climb, offering to show the way. And so the journey—and the story—begins.
One of the things I liked most about this book is that there is more an emphasis on who we need to become as opposed to what we need to do. He talks of learning to let go of our baggage, leaving behind sins and weaknesses that weigh us down and hinder our ability to ascend. As we learn to focus more on who we really want to be—and who God wants us to be—we are, we will realize that the things we do are important, not just as tasks to checked off on a list, but because of the way they change us.
Like all parables The Way Back to Heaven is a book that could be read over and over, getting new levels of meaning each time. For me, Michael Wilcox’s books always have multiple levels of meaning and I find something new with each re-reading.
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