Sr. Judy Long“You need to climb the elevator of love,
not the rough stairway of fear.”

These words could have been written by any rock star today; Bono, Bruce Springsteen or even Lady Gaga. Instead our little Thérèse coined the phrase “elevator of love” over 100 years ago. Her suggestion was given to Fr. Maurice Bellière, the missionary with whom she corresponded and affectionately called him “her dear little brother”. This instruction was written to him in a letter of July 18, 1897, just a little over two months before she died. Therese was so fascinated with the elevator, a new invention then, that she transferred it to the spiritual life.

Today, the fastest elevator in the world is in Burj Khalifa Dubai which travels at a speed of 40 miles per hour. A stairway cannot compare with an elevator’s speed. Really, it has no speed; the speed depends on the person that is climbing it. That is Thérèse’s whole point. Don’t depend on yourself—depend on Jesus. In The Story Of A Soul, when Thérèse relates the grace of her Christmas conversion she states, “The work I was unable to do in ten years was done by Jesus in one instant, contenting himself with my good will which was never lacking.”

The stairway of fear can be dangerous. Our ascent can be impeded by our doubts, stumbles, falls or worse, feelings of discouragement. But remember, God looks lovingly on our good will to love God and one another as Jesus did. God does not judge us on our mistakes or failings. If we follow Thérèse’s little way of confidence and love we can be triumphant like her. Thérèse soars to the pinnacle of love in the arms of Jesus. Now, isn’t that much easier than climbing the rough stairway of fear?

Sr. Judy Long, Baltimore Carmel