A Pastor Meets the Devil

February 1, 2019

Last week, my parents came to visit. It was their first time in Antigua. My wife and I did our best to show them the country we now call home. One of the highlights of our time together was a trip to Devil's Bridge.

 

Devil’s Bridge is a natural landmark. It’s located near Willikies Village and is composed of limestone rock at a point where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. The sight and sound of the waves crashing against the rocks are phenomenal. A popular story is that it earned the name Devil's Bridge because enslaved Africans went there to commit suicide.

 

According to locals, an unknown number of people died at Devil's Bridge. Similar to other accounts of the transatlantic slave trade, some African people believed that death was better than life as a slave.

 

As men and women jumped into the arms of death hoping to embrace freedom in an afterlife, myths began to circulate that the devil must dwell within the rocks and tumultuous waters at this spot on the island.

 

I haven’t done enough research to determine the accuracy of the stories surrounding Devil’s Bridge, but from what I have learned about slavery in Antigua, the idea that people committed suicide to avoid slavery is not far-fetched. In Natasha Lightfoot’s book, Troubling Waters: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation, I read how European colonialism guided by racism, and the economic demands of the sugar cane industry disrupted the lives of African people. The race and class order that supported the exploitation of labor left many people without hope for freedom. I took my parents to Devil's Bridge so, they could experience the beauty of nature alongside an understanding of the ugly historical realities of Antigua.  

 

Given my father’s occupation as a pastor of a church in Los Angeles, I thought he would also appreciate a trip to a place called the Devil’s Bridge. Every Sunday, he uses the pulpit to teach others about the Bible and how to live a righteous life, with the intentions to prepare congregants’ souls for heaven. Whether or not he saw the irony in taking him to a place named after the nemesis of Christianity, is unclear. I do know he and my mom enjoyed their time in Antigua.

As reported in this week’s vlog episode, my parents were grateful for the trip. My mother said that she appreciated the solitude. They live in south central LA not far from Crenshaw Boulevard, where a major construction project to bring a subway train to the city is underway. The escape to Antigua offered them an escape from the sounds of a busy construction site. My father is a man of very few words, but the occasional smiles I saw on his face, let me know he enjoyed the time away.

 

When is the last time you took time off from work?

 

I have been away from my university job for the past nine days. When hired, I was granted nine vacation days to use before January 30th. I didn’t take any time off during the holiday break, so I decided it was time to use the days before they expired.

 

This time off has provided me with a much-needed rest from my job. In addition to going to Devil’s Bridge with my parents while they were in town, I have had the blessing to spend valuable time with my wife and children. I also made progress on some writing projects that includes my second book scheduled for release in the Spring.

 

This week, I share these thoughts with you to encourage you to take some time off from work. If you have vacation days, put in a two-week notice, go on a trip, or spend time with family at home. Do whatever it is that makes you happy, but first subscribe to this blog!

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