- Hell is a state of mind . . . and every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind — is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains. Milton was right. The choice of every soul can be expressed in the words “better to reign in Hell than serve in heaven.” There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God “thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “thy will be done.” All those that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriosly and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock it is opened.
C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.
There are many books by C.S. Lewis that I can recommend, but a particularly good one for the Lenten season is The Great Divorce, a fantasy narrative in which sinners are offered a bus ride from Hell to Heaven and offered a chance at the latter — if, but for a moment, they can relenquish their ego and set their love upon something higher than themselves.
It’s a penetrating psychological study of the many ways in which our preoccupation with our thoughts and desires leads us to forego a relationship with the divine, one of the most hard-hitting books I’ve ever read. I would count it as one of my personal favorites by Lewis, second only to The Screwtape Letters.