In Featured, Pastor Paul's Blog

By Pastor Paul Gauche

Today’s Word: ‘Hell’ as in… the moment we realize that when someone yells “Go to hell!” at someone else, everyone is more or less, mostly more, already there.

The 17th Annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships wrapped up last weekend, with dozens of teams playing on more than two dozen rinks constructed on Lake Nokomis. Laughter could be heard everywhere as the crowds cheered on their favorite teams with names like “Inglorious Blasters,” “Not Fast, Just Furious,” Bring Your ‘Eh’ Game,” and “Open-Faced Hamm’s Sandwich.” For most people, it was a little bit of heaven. But, unfortunately, it was a little bit of hell for at least a couple of others.

Two players, already red-faced from all of the start-stop-back-forth-up-and-down game were suddenly in each other’s faces. Awkwardly, they momentarily forgot that they were on skates and had to lean on each other for balance. Then, in a flash, one of them ripped the other’s hockey stick away and whipped it into the air. Several of us instinctively crouched down as the hockey-stick-turned-airborne-weapon-of-mass-dysfunction landed in the next rink. Then, as other players and referees skated in to quell the anger, expletives began to flow. Verbs and nouns were combined with adjectives and adverbs in ways that threw shade on the other’s family members. The whole thing was awful. It was hell on ice.

Hell is about death and disconnection from everything that creates life and more life. Anyone describing their version of hell will likely tell stories of broken relationships, deep loneliness, utter disconnection.

Hell is the experience of being outside of the community. In ancient times, just beyond the walls of the old city of Jerusalem was the Valley of Hinnom. It was the landfill, the garbage dump where human sacrifices took place in even more ancient times. It was constantly on fire, always billowing smoke. It was called Gehenna, the Greek word for hell. Hell on earth.

It would do us all well to let go of the hellish idea of eternal conscious torment after death. Instead, let’s focus on creating ongoing life while we’re still living.


Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where he blogs about a different word each week. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche) or his blog, Thriving Rhythms.


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