Hell is not some abstract place,
Deep beneath the earth,
Where villains go who fall from grace,
Forever stripped of worth.
It’s where I made my bed last night,
The one I soaked with tears;
It’s where the rays of morning light
Exposed my reigning fears.
It’s where the cloud of heavy dread
Descends upon my head;
A toxic fog that chokes out breath
And edges me toward death.
It’s the mountain that I cannot move,
The storm I cannot quell,
The terror that I cannot soothe,
The devil and his spell.
The silenced hallelujah,
The stifled shout of awe.
But hell is where He meets me—
Suffering servant, Son of Man.
He’s weeping inconsolably,
Despite the heavenly plan.
Streaks of blood from his forehead drip,
Baptizing garden soil;
Hushed words flow from his quivering lip,
He reeks of sweat and toil.
I sit disfigured—bruised and bent,
Beneath the weight of grief.
I wonder why he’s silent
As I beg him for relief.
He sits with me a while and then
Asks me if I’m ready.
I ask him, “Ready for what and when?”
He points at a fallen tree.
He hoists his own upon his neck,
Then beckons me to follow.
Not keen on making a dubious trek,
I say, “Maybe tomorrow.”
I watch until he disappears
Beyond the distant hill.
Alone again with all my fears,
I feel a sudden chill.
I beat my chest and bite my wrists
Like a mad demoniac;
In hell I pace with clench-ed fists
My vision fades to black.
Just then I trip on the grounded log
Its companion long departed;
My fingers survey its roughened stock,
Like me, it’s been deserted.
I finally say, Let’s go, old friend,
We’ve got some ground to cover.
But when I go to lift the end,
It’s light and smells of myrrh.
The scene before me melts like wax
I am at once transported;
The ground beneath me bears no tracks,
Yet something’s gotten sorted.
My name, I hear it, soft and clear,
Whispered in my ear;
The inner captive’s been set free
By the voice of One who knows me.
Together, now, we enter hell
To face its fiery spell,
Defying all its appetites
To steal, destroy, to smite.
We ransom hallelujahs
Release the shouts of awe,
Turn catacombs into our homes
And hell into Shalom.
Copyright 2018 Judy Wu Dominick