As we emerge from the Blizzard of 2016, we thought it might be appropriate to write a blog about a cold day in Hell! When you hear someone say, “It will be a cold day in Hell” before something happens, it generally means that the chances of that something happening are absolutely impossible or highly unlikely to happen. The operative sentiment is: it’s NEVER going to happen!
The other two idioms similar to ‘a cold day in hell’ that express the same sentiments are: ‘When hell freezes over,’* and ‘Not a snowball’s chance in hell.’
The original ‘cold day in hell’ idiomatic expression is believed to have originated sometime in the late 19th century in America, perhaps around 1888 or 1889. Its etymology is ‘cold natured’ so etymologists haven’t gotten warm enough to pin point its origins. (Now we’re messing with you!)
Some fairly common ‘cold day in hell’ expressions you’ve probably heard are:
- “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I return his calls.”
- “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I forgive what they’ve done.”
- “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I go out with him again.”
- “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I trust you again.”
- “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I win the lottery.”
What’s interesting about all of these ‘cold day in hell’ sentiments is that they all imply that ‘hell’ is a place, a place regarded in many mainstream religious traditions as a realm of evil and suffering. It is often traditionally depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the surface of the earth where the wicked are punished after death.
The word ‘hell’ is mentioned fifty-five times in the Bible and is depicted as a hellish place characterized by fire, eternal punishment, death, torment and anguish, misery, and wickedness. It’s seen as a place you don’t want to go – and don’t want your loved ones to go. It is an incinerator of suffering! A crematory of anguish! An abode of super-heated agony with fiery temperatures off the charts!
Cooler climates are not expected there. There is no air-conditioning. Nor will there ever be, as we have been taught. It is a place of perpetual burning. So, snowballs in hell, ice-cream and frozen custard, snow cones, iced tea and iced coffee, and popsicles are out of the question. Ice skating, ice fishing, ice hockey and snow skiing are, too! It would be a ‘cold day in hell’ before you enjoyed those things down there!
The notion of this kind of hell has been popular for centuries. If you happen to have been brought up in a traditional Christian home, chances are this kind of ‘hell’ was passed on to you at a very early age. You have been led to believe that this futuristic, end of life state, and otherworldly place is located in some sinister other-worldly realm below the earth.
If it was, and if it is still your dominant belief about hell — and its oven-like qualities — we invite you to suspend that belief as soon as possible. (And we believe it doesn’t have to be a ‘cold day in hell’ before you outgrow that Neanderthal concept)!
All that we have mentioned above in this blogcast comes to this: What if hell isn’t a physical place at all, but a state of consciousness? What if hell isn’t a geographical location ruled by a red-garbed being with horns, tail and pitchfork, where people scream in agony and are tortured endlessly in eternal flames?
Here’s the thing — because hell is a state of consciousness (a hellish one, we might add) that can be described as a state of mind that retails suffering, torment, anguish, misery, wickedness, hatefulness, violence, denial of our innate divinity, deceitfulness, and disrespect for others — we can cool off those divisive thoughts and hellish inclinations so there can be ‘cold days in hell.’
As a matter of fact, we can create so many ‘cold days in hell’ that we can cool hell off once and for all! Metaphysically, a ‘day’ represents an ‘enlightened spiritual thought’ and ‘hell’ symbolizes a ‘consciousness that denies our innate divinity.’ So, you see, when you allow an enlightened spiritual thought to enter a hellish state of consciousness, it cools off a violent disposition. It cools off deceitfulness and disrespect shown to others. It cools off divisiveness and hatred.
- When we create Nobel Prizes for loving kindness, compassion, and unconditional love shown to others…
- When we choose, as a human species, to end violence and war, in all of their forms…
- When we put people before profits…
- When we choose to end world hunger and put an end to irresponsible drug use…
- When we decide once and for all to respect the dignity of all people regardless of their age, disability, national origin, color, religion, lifestyle orientation and gender…
- When we treat women as the equals they are…
- When we create peace on earth…
We will be able to say unequivocally and with a clear conscience…
FINALLY, IT’S A COLD DAY IN HELL … each time we achieve one of these long-awaited-for improvements in human nature!
So today, make it a cold day in hell by making a conscious choice about your state of consciousness — as you walk the spiritual path on practical feet.
*As a side note, it’s a fact that Hell — which is between Flint and Ann Arbor, Michigan — froze over in 2004. (There is a Hell, California located near Interstate 10 which was built in 1964. Hell, CA was founded ten years earlier in 1954 by Charles Carr. Of course, since Carr’s Hell is a desert town, it’ll be a ‘cold day in Hell if that Hell freezes over.)
© Revs. Drs. Bil & Cher Holton, Global Center for Spiritual Practices