Ladder to the Light: An Indigenous Elder’s Meditations on Hope and Courage

Steven Charleston. Broadleaf, $17.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-5064-6573-9

These words of encouragement from Choctaw elder and Episcopal priest Charleston (Sanctuary of the Spirit) offer a hopeful perspective on fixing a troubled world. Charleston describes the Native American place of worship know as the kiva, a hole dug into the ground that’s “a womb. It is a place of origins. It is where, according to my ancestors’ teachings, life first began.” To escape the primordial darkness of fear and worry about failing political, judicial, and societal institutions (which he compares to the original kiva), Charleston tells readers to “climb up the ladder into the light.” Each rung of the ladder contributes to a spiritual process—faith, hope, community, renewal, and transformation—that calls one to find clarity, transform reality, and promote justice. Charleston recommends that, rather than sugarcoating societal problems, humanity needs faith to imagine a better world. He proposes taking action together for a common good through interreligious cooperation, prioritizing truth, embracing change, and championing dignity and inclusion for all people. Readers will appreciate Charleston’s pride in Native traditions and his optimism that humanity can heal the scars of the past and rebuild what has been broken. (Jan.)