You say I have no power? Perhaps you speak truly...
But--you say that dreams have no power here?
Tell me, Lucifer Morningstar...
Ask yourselves, all of you...
What power would hell have if those here imprisoned were not able to dream of heaven?
- Sandman #4
by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth
When we usually think about the horribleness of hell, we think about an eternity of pain and torture. The first thing that comes to our mind is the whole "weeping and gnashing of teeth" bit. Yadda yadda yadda.
But really, the true punishment of hell is separation from God. I can't imagine how lonesome such wretched solitude would be. To be completely cut off from one's very Creator that breathed life into you? The thought should make us shudder far worse than any perverse Saw-like torture traps man can imagine.
God is not just the Creator, but also the Sustainer (that might not be an actual word). Even when we are in a personal valley and do not feel God's presence, or even in times when we completely forget about him, he is always there and always sustains us. Most often we aren't even aware of it. But I can't begin to speculate what it would feel like to have that connection severed.
In Sandman, Morpheus makes the argument that the only power Satan has to torment the denizens of hell is due to the fact that they can dream of heaven and being once more in the presence of God. I think of it as like a reverse Shawshank Redemption. Andy Dufrense's hope for freedom sustained him long enough to turn that hope into reality. But in hell, all that hope does is solidify pain and terror, for that dream of heaven can never be realized.
Man, I've been writing a lot about pain and misery this week, haven't I? I do apologize if I've been bumming you guys out. Despite my optimism, I guess 2012 has gotten off to a pretty rocky start after all.