I can picture Hell. It’s all too easy these days. Just turn on the news. A place without love, without compassion, full of selfishness, ignorance, oppression, totalitarianism, and violence. Hell is nothing more than the absence of God, although there are plenty of false gods and theocracies formed to keep the drivel in line. There are no miracles, no magic, no dragons, demons, or ghosts, and no happy endings. Everything can be explained. It is all terribly shallow and mundane. Imagine a life occupied by only the most base of human experience. There is no need for fire and brimstone. While humans suck at power to do any good, we are quite adept at making our own little Hell dimensions, especially if we are given any power.
There is pleasure in Hell, fame and riches, envy and lust, but it is all empty, meaningless and always surrounded by horrors. Hell lacks subtly and is so prevalent in its creeping tendrils in our world, we scarcely notice it. And we certainly do not dare call it by its name. We live in a fallen world where glimpses of Heaven are fleeting.
Heaven is found only in moments of pure joy, unconditional love, and painfully beautiful visions that take our breath away, a sunset here and a clear blue ocean there. It is quiet, always there just in your grasp, not on the other side of the clouds, but rather on the other side of your life. In my belief, a man of love was nailed to a tree for our crimes so that everyone of us might conquer death and gain Heaven. This man descended into Hell, rose again on the third day so that all of us might one day dwell eternally in a place that is filled with love so bright that even the most glorious of poets could never describe it.
J.R.R. Tolkien gave a wondrous description at the end of Return of the King which comes pretty close to my meager imaginings of what paradise might be like.
“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the gray rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
I like to think that my Aunt Barbara is there in that far green country reunited with her beloved horse, Annie, both young and whole again.
This week we said our last goodbyes, and though I will miss Aunt Barbara from this day until that day, I do believe we will meet again. I might go fishing with my granddad first, my dad (if he beats me there), and my old Springer Spaniel, Winston. That dog loved to jump in the lake, especially when a fat brim began to nibble on my line.
So Aunt Barbara and her horses may have to wait. I am sure she won’t mind as there will time for everything and everyone. For now, I will try my best to fight the good fight, live my life as full as I can until the good Lord calls me home at last. At least, I will write more whatever comes along.