Dennis Aubrey’s “Lessons in Stone” took me back three years ago.
I’m sitting in a small room with a Benedictine monk at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN. It’s the first of six private meetings over a three day silent retreat.
“What brings you here?” asks the spiritual guide. “My step-daughter is dying of cancer.” “What is her name?” “Katherine.” How old is Katherine?” “Thirty-three. She was diagnosed four years ago with Leiomyosarcoma, a rare incurable sarcoma, and is now in her last months in hospice care.”
“So what troubles you? Are you afraid for the state of her soul?” “No,” I respond quickly. “Not at all. It’s not about that. God is Love. I don’t believe in hell.”
“Hmmm,” said the monk. “I see. Interesting. Our tradition says that there is a hell, but that the likelihood is that there’s nobody in it.”
The centerpiece of the tympanum that captured the attention of the little Danish boy in Dennis’ “Lessons in Stone” is the scene of God’s hand reaching to pull Saint Foy toward heaven.
You don’t have to believe in hell as an eternal state to cry out for release from its torments here and now, or to pray for a peace that passes all understanding.