What is hell?
This is my snapshot of hell. As experienced many years ago. The scene: me and my school buddies are sitting in a classroom. It is a classic, old-fashioned, classroom; drab and dull walls; large blackboard, scratched desks. We range in age between 12 and 13.
The room is hot, stifling, but no one dares move for fear of attracting his attention, and ire. He only knows ire.
Dressed in a dark brown habit, with a large cross hanging around his neck, he prowls the rows, silently, as if gliding along the wooden floor. Slung over his left shoulder is a long, thick, leather strap.
He stops at my little desk. I dare not look up but I can feel his presence. My heart quickens. Quickens? No there’s no quickening, it’s a size 11 tremoring. Yes, size 11. Only reason Mr Richter went to 10 with his magnitude scale is because he never met Him!
I’m hoping against hope he’ll move onto the next desk. Better my friend Luigi than me, right? Luigi’s an attention seeker anyway. But no. He lingers in my space. After what seems the proverbial eternity he speaks. It’s a low hissing sound rather than a human voice. “Where is your homework?”
I look up and as softly and respectfully as I can manage stammer, “I did not under…”
Before I can finish. Before I can tell him I didn’t understand the assignment he acts. The speed and fluidity of the movement defies time and space. He grabs the strap with his right hand and brings it down full force across my face and head. The pain is awful, really bad, but it’s the nonchalant cruelty that’s truly frightening. Then like a well practiced fast-draw gunslinger, he shoulders the strap and calmly hisses, “Get it done tomorrow.” He sounds aroused.
I wasn’t at that school long. Not did I learn anything there. But it served as a great lesson.
Evil is not restricted to the so-called hell. You don’t go to a place and in that place resides malevolence, sin, depravity heinousness and grubby little men hiding their twisted hates behind robes and crosses. And in that place you are tormented, abused and brutalized.
Hell, like heaven, is within the person. Both are available at any time. Heaven and hell aren’t a place, they are a mind space. Which one is occupied depends on the choices we make.