Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beyond the Pall (Part 5): Emerging From Outer Darkness

She screamed from inside the locked vault. I closed only one of the two massive doors of our double-doored vault. As I turned the handle, the gentle clicking noise accompanied the narrowing of the thin crack of light until it disappeared altogether. Then she screamed all the louder, but these were faint and distant cries to us.

Within the locked vault a person can not see their hand before their face. Complete and utter darkness envelopes you, and no amount of time will allow your eyes to adjust to see even faint images.

I allowed her to scream a short time - short for me, but perhaps an eternity for her. After about 45 seconds I spun the handle counter-clockwise, and the gentle clicking gave way to the fine crack of light, and then to the opening of the door.

She was free again. A Witch who was a mother of two young children emerged from the Vault. She was cursing, and shouting, and confessing sins, and saying she did not deserve this.

We listened. We laughed. We discussed the experience with her.

She described the utter feeling of isolation, and the sense of truly understanding the concept of Hell as outer darkness.

She said thank you - repeatedly.

After she left, we scratched our heads, and considered this strange, but remarkable interaction.

She had come into our church meeting space. It is a 200 year old bank, with a massive vault directly opposite the entrance. She came with her friend. Both dressed mildly witchy in black, with tall shoes.

We discussed our plans for an event which we are planning for the Halloween season in Salem. These Witch friends of ours were publicizing, and helping sponsor the event for us. We described elements of this event, which we call "The Brimstone Chronicles." "The Brimstone Chronicles" will walk through the history of the Christian concepts of death, and the afterlife. It will include an experience of outer darkness. People will be asked to consider outer darkness as they are locked into the old vault for a short time.

She was excited about the idea, and asked to be locked in the vault. We asked if she was sure she wanted to do this. She was insistent. We obliged, and the strange story of screaming, cursing, confessing sins, and thanking us for the experience unfolded.

A couple weeks later she returned on a Sunday afternoon. She was walking downtown Salem with her mother.

"Mom. this is Pastor Phil," she smiled proudly, "Pastor Phil this is my mother."

"I've heard so much about you. It is nice to be able to put a face with the name." Her mother replied.

We spoke awhile, and even reminisced about the experience with outer darkness. My friend the Witch had asked for Hell. We gave it to her, and we were still friends. Her Roman Catholic mother thanked me for being a positive influence. They left.

I scratched my head again.

To read parts 1-4:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Anonymous said...

Dude, you create the wildest of illustrations. :D Perhaps that's why you manage to communicate more effectively than others.... and where others simply drive home a wall of hate.



Sally said...

how many churches can offer an experience of hell??? How many would dare?!!!

Bless you Phil!

Adam Gonnerman said...


Seriously. That worship space is too cool.

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Mike,

What else can one do with a Vault? Necessity is the mother of invention you know. ;-)

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Sally,

I figure it's not THAT we do it, but HOW we do it which is the most important factor. Hell deserves treatment in discussion today, because it is such a hot topic, and one for which many people will reject Christianity. Hmmmmm..."hot topic" - no pun was intended there, how silly of me.

Pastor Phil said...

Thanks Adam.

Sally said...

lol Phil- good point though!- our experience on Sunday and today was a little more low key- but no less real!

Anonymous said...

I gotta try that sometime.

Pastor Phil said...


If its real I'm happy. I suppose I'm not looking for much else these days. Well okay, that's not true. I could use a miracle or two.

Pastor Phil said...


We can do bro. Get ready for outer darkness.