(First time I read this was in 2004, & my friend Filip just asked me about it so I read it again and remembered just how good it was again. I figured I would post it here since it is a good read...)
Saint Francis Visits Satan by Rodolfo Scarfalloto
It was well past midnight. The young friar walked through the wooded valley, deep in the forest of Umbria. He was absorbed in prayer, greatly troubled by the perpetual conflict he had seen among humanity in his travels. He was fervently asking for understanding when he became aware that he was very thirsty. Looking around the darkend woodland, he noticed the flowing waters of a nearby spring, glistening in the moon light. He kneeled down by the spring and took a drink, thanking sister water for quenching his thirst. He had been walking for hours, and had fasted nearly forty days. He was exausted. Next to the spring, he noticed a small mound of dry leaves that had been heaped up by the wind.
After reciting his final prayer of the night, he lay down on the leaves and drifted off into a deep and restfull sleep.
In the early morning hours, just before awakening, he dreamed that he was walking through the deepest recesses of the underworld, where he was searching, until he found the one whom all of his fellow friars were trying to avoid.
The young frair fearlessly approached him. "Greetings, Brother. I have come here to ask you to return home with me."
Satan laughed, and with uncharacteristic gentleness, escorted the young frair to hell's gate.
"Be gone my brother. You are able to stay in my presence for a short while and not be burned because you are harmless, but you must leave before your profound grace expires."
"First I would ask you why you continue to stay in this place. I am disturbed by your exile."
"As long as there is one among our kin who does not remember what you remember, I must remain; and from here, I guard the gate to our Father;s house against all those who might sneak in before full rememberance is reached."
"But you do not have to stay here. If you walk with me to the gate of rememberance, others will surely follow."
"You do your work your way. And I will my work my way."
The young frair sighed. "Though I am saddened by the division between us, I cannot force you to walk with me."
Satan laughed. "And neither would you, even if you could. You would not force your will apon a butterfly. That is why i cannot harm you."
"Are your words intended to seduce me?"
"I am, indeed, the master of seduction, " he laughed again. "But i cannot seduce in absence of vanity. Any attempt to seduce you would be a silly waste of energy. I have no choice but to tell you the truth."
"So tell me again, for I am slow of learing; why must you stay in this place?"
"To guide brethern, in my own way, as i have said.
"I do not understand. How can condemnation and violence help them?"
"By making things intolerable for them. I expose the weakness that they would greatly conceal. Those who do not listen to you, must learn through me."
"Do you not know that people fear and hate you?"
"Of course. If they did not fear and hate me, they would quickly see their own weakness, and they would have no further need of my services; which is just as well because in the asbsence of fear and hate, I would no longer have any power to continue my work. This is perfection, my brother. Those who need my services also provide me with the energy needed to fuel my efforts."
"You really belive that you can serve them by leading the astray?"
"Satan laughed again. "It is not I who lead them. They lead me. It is the law."
"You have great wisdom, my brother. You understand the subtleties of creation in ways I do not. Yet, there is a stubborn place within me which insists that you can use your wisdom in a more productive manner which would bring great happiness and fufillment to you and all those who are influenced by you. Perhaps I am naive. Perhaps my stubbon perception is just wishfull thinking, born of my desire to see you end your exile. You are, after all, the beloved prodigal son, and my brother. It would be my greatest joy to share in the celebration of your return, for you are the first born of our blessed Mother and Father."
"In your simplicity, you are most persuasive, little brother. Your words are genuine and free of subterfuge. Nonetheless, i have my vigil. Here I am bound to stay."
"But we are both free to come and go, and have been from the begining of time when out Father touched the womb of Mother Darkness to bring us into being. Walk with me, and let us drink deeply of the love they have for each other and for us, their children."
There was a brief flicker of sadness in Satan's eyes, and than his face hardened again, and he laughed. "Go little brother, before your profound grace expires, for I am still capable of finding weakness within you."
"I feel your pain, my brother, for it is my pain. We will meet again and rejoice."
As Francis walked away, Satan watched him, and briefly considered the possiblity of speeding things up a bit.
The young frair was awakend from his dream by a lark standing on the ground close by. With his eyes still closed, he spontaneously recited his morning greeting to God and all creation. He vaguely remembered the dream, not knowing what to make of it. Opening his eyes, he gazed upon the clear water flowing from the nearby spring. The first rays of sunlight filtered through the trees, warming his face. The wind, which has been blowing a while ago, had settled down. The trees, rocks, the ground he was laying on, and the mist which played in the morning sun, seemed to be speaking to him in unison. He was simultanously filled with great joy and great sadness, as he felt himself being moved by a visceral awareness which he didnt quite comprehend.
Book: Devils & Rebels
Author: Dr. Christopher S. Hyatt
Publisher: New Falcon Publications
Title of Section: Saint Francis Visits Satan
Page of Section: 275
Author of Section: Rodolfo Scarfalloto
(Author of the Falcon Title: The Alchemy of Opposites)