I recently flew into Chicago in the evening. The sun had long set, and the last faint light of day showed that we were over Lake Michigan. The effect was eerie…water and sky were nearly the same dark gray, and it was difficult to mark where one ended and the other began. I was struck with the cold reality that if we suddenly fell out of the sky right there, we would sink forever into dark oblivion. It reminded me of a haunting piece of artwork in National Geographic a few years back. The painting of a solitary planet, adrift and alone in the utter blackness of space, was impossible to look at and not feel cold to your bones. Some theologians have described hell not as a lake of fire, but as separation from God. That theory particularly resonates on these rare occasions when I glimpse utter aloneness. Only interaction with others makes life worthwhile; being profoundly alone would be hell.
Without love, there is no hope. Without hope, there is only despair. If I didn’t have faith in something better after this…if I believed that I would drift eternally past that lonely planet or forever sink into the dark waters outside my plane window the other night…I could not go on.
A friend once shared that he was an atheist, even as he battled the cancer which eventually took his life. Though I must believe what he told me, I thought I sensed a faint doubt in his disbelief. I think of him especially when I ponder the nature of heaven. It is my fond wish that one day he will smile at me and tell me that he was wrong. I will not revel in having been right…I will simply be at peace knowing that I will never feel alone again.
“I saw also that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.” –George Fox