Satan is a Man

I woke up remembering only one image from the dream: a deserted, large family dining table, an empty white tablecloth still spread over it, an abandoned pair of eyeglasses left near the edge. They resembled my father’s, those he has not needed for the more than twenty years since he was laid in his grave.

Haitians say that when you die you go to the “peyi san chapo—the country of no-hats.” Perhaps islanders have imagined the realm of the dead as one without sunlight. Yet survivors of near-death experiences invariably tell about intense light and overall luminosity. So, perhaps what Haitians actually express here is that hats, much like crowns, are a measure of vanity, a creative accolade to the human desire for effulgent public appearances, yet now only a clever illusion become obsolete after death. One then might playfully wonder if there is also a “peyi san talon kikit, tatwaj, ak sikatris batay—a country without high heels, tattoos and battle scars,” knowing as we do, that death is the time to be freed of all encumbrances, a long-awaited time for everlasting clarity, divine insight into our true character, and keen examination of choices made during life.

But dream of the dead as I might, I am still caught with the living on earth where the silence and solitude of an empty table can weigh on me. 

“How are you?” someone will surely ask me this morning.

“It is my best day yet!” I will say with conviction. 

Each new day from now on will be “my best day yet.” No more moaning. I will keep a count of the countless blessings. And believe me if I tell you that when I am defiant about being cheerful, I see Satan grimace and recoil; I feel him flinch, gasp, twist, squirm and writhe; I hear him wheeze. He looks poorly. Satan is just a man.

Christ presented Himself as a man too. He made a leap of the heart, and showed Himself to us, while Evil is careful to hide. Both are alive, both always near. But Satan is one who does not wish me well. He is a neighbor watching for a chance to enter the house without knocking, to cause a crash inside. 

But whatever future dream I may have in the night, I will from now on open my eyes, and be sure to notice first the familiar row of old bears and dolls sitting on the mahogany chest across the bed, all of them wanting to remind me of times filled with whimsy and light folly. Raggedy Ann may have wooly, orange hair and a faded vintage dress, but her skirt is a forever-wide expanse of flowers. The smile on my doll’s face is larger than any crescent moon. It was created with joy, and nothing can erase it.

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