Saturday, March 11, 2023

HELL - Yes & No

High Plains Drifter
Most of us have a concept of Hell. It is a place of eternal punishment and unquenchable fires,with wailing and gnashing of teeth. This image was actively taught and vividly described in my early years of Christian Sunday School. Or we became familiar with Hell through reading Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri's epic poem Divine Comedy. Another lasting image of Hell came from High Plains Drifter, a movie (1973) starring Clint Eastwood focused on the beneath the surface cruelty of the people in a mining town named Lago.

Over the years the concept of Hell has changed from a place of eternal confinement to a current condition of life. I have experienced any number of soul-sucking situations in my life. There have been short-term summer jobs, especially one with an asphalt roofing company which lasted six hours.  A couple of pastoral ministry settings, that at first glace appeared exciting which quickly became an abyss of despair. Feeling confined by the expectations of my peers and profession, as well as needing the benefits provided for my family, I allowed creativity and appreciation to trickle out of my life. It was not a massive, consuming fire, but the ever increasing flame which deadened by spirit. There have been personal relationships in which I could not muster the energy nor face the perceived consequences of "ripping off the band-aid." My lack of action kept me enclosed emotionally and spiritually. The relationships were not physically harmful, but there was no enthusiasm or exploration in them. 

What has occurred cannot be changed. Reliving the past does not serve the present if it is only a
Late Night - Seth Meyers
rehashing of guilt or "should haves." I have realized that "hell no" is a response to be used frequently. It is in the action of "Hell No" that the freedom of "Hell Yes!" can take root. Daily life does not have to be routine. Discoveries, as well as diving deep into activities that provide perspective furnish opportunities for personal productivity. The willingness to take a risk while enduring short-term pain keeps me out of the pervasive and periodic entrapment of a lived hell.  

If a sign is posted to indicate my life, I have not formulated the words to attach to it. However, if it had to be done today I want "Hell Yes" listed first and "Hell No" directly underneath it. These words express freedom in my current setting, not eternal confinement. All I have are the choices I make today, eternity can wait!


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