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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Inspirational · #2290973
A professor struggles as she is forced to question her fundamental beliefs.
Blind Faith
by Damon Nomad

Karen glanced at her watch as she stood up to stretch. She shuffled around the outer office pretending to look at the artwork on the wall. She mumbled quietly, "Maybe this is a mistake."

The young woman looked up from her computer. "Any minute, he is always on time professor."

Doctor Leonard Moss came through the door of the office suite moments later. A spry spring in his step for a man nearly seventy years old. A thick mane of gray hair covered his head and a well-trimmed gray beard on his thin face. His spectacles hung from a black cord around his neck. He nodded to Karen. "You must be Professor Albright." He barked at his young assistant, "Coffee black." He gestured to Karen. "Black or green tea, coffee?"

She smiled with a nod to the young lady. "Green tea, hot please."

Moss waved to the door of his private office as he growled at his assistant, "Take care of the tea and coffee, and then no interruptions." He marched toward his office. Karen picked up her briefcase and followed.

They sat in leather wingback chairs in a cozy corner of the large office. It was decorated with dark wood wainscoting, carved crown molding, and hardwood cabinets and bookcases. The parquet floor was mostly covered by two large oriental rugs. The office of the head of medical research for the university was impressive. Karen thought Moss seemed a bit out of place in these elegant surroundings. A brilliant research neurologist that was not known for his manners. She never met him, and his abrupt treatment of his assistant was consistent with his reputation. The university president arranged the meeting with Moss and said there was more to him than the crusty outer shell. Karen had great respect for the president, but Moss seemed cold.

Moss studied the attractive woman as she sipped her warm tea. She was younger than he had expected, maybe forty-five. Thick, wavy auburn hair and intelligent green eyes that were scanning the room. Just a hint of crow's feet that revealed some age. "Professor Albright, I think you know I do not see patients. The president of this esteemed institution insisted that I meet with you about a personal matter. What's on your mind?" He knew Albright was a pre-eminent astrophysicist, she studied the origin of the universe. Moss respected the university president and Albright was someone the president admired and trusted.

She winced. "It involves my daughter Gabrielle, Gabby." She paused as she stared at the floor.

"Why me? I'm a crabby old man and we don't know each other."

She nodded with a hint of a smile. "Your qualifications and one of your areas of professional interest." She paused for a moment. "There is also something about you personally that makes me think you're the right person to consult. The controversy surrounding you quoting Nietzsche a few years ago."

"Ahh yes . . . 'Man created God in his own image.' So why is that important and how does that connect to your daughter?"

She looked him in the eyes. "You really believe that God does not exist?"

He shifted in his chair and paused for a moment. "That is what I believe, Nietzsche had it right. But we are not here to talk about me."

She looked away speaking in a nervous whisper, "I'm having a crisis of faith."

He huffed, "I'm clearly not the right person to help in matters of faith. What does that have to do with your daughter?"

She spoke in a stronger voice, "I have always had the same view as you, regarding a divine creator. No evidence or need to invoke the magical hand of God to create this cosmos." She exhaled loudly and took a deep breath. "Three months ago, my daughter nearly died. An electrical shock from an exposed wire at an auditorium. She was backstage listening to a friend practice a violin solo. The friend's mother was nearby, she's an emergency room doctor and she resuscitated Gabby. She told me that Gabby's heart stopped for nearly a minute." Karen paused and took a drink of tea. "She is fine now and fully recovered. A few days later, Gabby told me that something else happened during the time she was out, vivid images and sounds."

Moss's eyes narrowed as he nodded his understanding. "Near-death experience with visual and auditory features. Okay, I understand why you came to me." He was the featured expert on a televised documentary about the phenomena three years earlier. Moss was publicly attacked by several religious groups for his neurological explanations of near-death experiences. He gave his quote from Nietzsche to a reporter who interviewed him about the controversy. "How old is your daughter?"


Moss asked Karen to describe the details of Gabby's experience. Karen walked through the description as closely as she could recall it from her daughter.

Moss leaned back in his seat as he slowly rubbed his hands together. "That is much more vivid and detailed than the usual description. Surprising for someone so young. What about her father's reaction to this?"

"He is out of the picture. We divorced five years ago and he lives out of the country."

"Okay, how does she interpret this experience?"

Karen glanced out the window before answering. "She believes that her soul has been to heaven and that these were angels from God."

Moss tapped his fingers on his coffee cup. "Is she someone who has had a vivid imagination or fantasy life? What about her views on God before this?"

"She is very grounded, not prone to fantasies. I shared my views about God when she was twelve, but told her to decide for herself. She said she wanted to think about it and she has kept an open mind." She paused for a moment. Her voice trembled as she continued, "She has always been honest with me and we are close. Her description of this place and these angels is so detailed. This is a real experience to her, like us sitting in this room."

Moss's voice softened as he gestured for calm. "You are a woman of science. Our sense of sight is mostly in our minds. You may be familiar with the quote, 'The eyes only see what the mind is prepared to comprehend.' Our eyes are lenses, it is our powerful visual cortex that creates our visual living experience. Our mind can also access stored images while our eyes are closed as we sleep. A specialized region of the visual cortex stores visual memory, but we don't know how this works. Our subconscious mind accesses these stored images to create dreams. Some are as real as us sitting in this room. You can explain this to her, she is old enough to understand."

"Gabby is smart and mature. I suggested to her it was some type of dream triggered in her unconscious mind. She understood what I was saying but she stayed firm with her belief."

Moss nodded his understanding. "Has she experienced lucid dreams or hallucinations since that time?"

She shook her head. "No."

"How about her behavior, school work, and day-to-day life? Has she become obsessive about the experience?"

"Everything is normal. She doesn't talk about it but she does go to church now with a school friend."

Moss shrugged. "Hmm . . . I would not let this trouble you. Many intelligent and well-adjusted people believe in God. Our mutual acquaintance, the president of this university is a man of great faith and someone I respect. I see no reason to worry about her. So long as she is grounded in reality in her day-to-day affairs."

"It's me I'm worried about, there is more to this than I have told you." She sighed loudly before continuing, "Something I can't explain." She reached into her briefcase and pulled out a large sheet of heavy paper. A drawing of an older woman, done with colored pencils.

Moss studied the sketch for a few moments. "I don't understand, what is this?"

She handed him an old photograph. "This is a picture of my mother. Gabby drew the drawing and gave it to me two weeks ago. She told me that she talked to my mother in heaven during her experience. It's the first time she told me about that part of her encounter. Gabby knows that my mother is a touchy subject. My mother and I were estranged for years before her death. Gabby said that my mother told her that she loved me . . ." Karen teared up and went quiet.

Moss slipped on his eyeglasses and compared the drawing to the picture. "Quite a remarkable likeness, she is a gifted artist." Moss paused for a moment. "I understand why this is upsetting, but the same explanation applies. A vision triggered by a visual memory she has of her grandmother. How old was she when your mother died?"

"She was only two. But you don't understand . . ."

Moss interrupted, "Yes, that is too young for such a memory. A memory of a photograph would be enough for her subconscious to create an image."

Karen raised her voice in mild frustration, "Gabby is blind. Blind since birth."

"Oh my." Moss studied the drawing and noticed the slightly raised lines forming a grid on the thick paper. He took off his glasses and laid the photo and drawing on the table between their seats. "Remarkable." He shook his head. "Quite incredible."

Karen smiled, "She got her hands on some crayons and drew a cat when she was five. Based on her experience with a friend's cat. A gentle pet that she was able to hug and touch. I did some research about blind artists. We gave her a set of colored pencils with the colors etched in braille on each one. I'm constantly surprised by how good her drawings are, usually scenes from books. It takes time, but she is persistent." She gestured to the drawing on the table. "I don't understand how she was able to draw my mother."

Moss stood up and slowly walked in a circle with his hands clasped behind his back. "She could probably draw your face from feeling it over the years. But there is not a strong resemblance with your mother. Anyone make a death mask of her or maybe a bust? Something that your daughter was allowed to touch. Or maybe detailed descriptions from someone."

Karen shook her head. "My mother was an only child and not from a wealthy family. I'm quite sure there is no death mask or bust. I never told Gabby anything about her appearance. I have a sister, but she hasn't spent a lot of time with Gabby. My father died when I was in high school."

Moss sat back down in the chair. "Your daughter drew this, you're sure?"

"I came into her room one evening. She told me about seeing my mother and what my mother told her. She got the drawing out of a desk drawer and handed it to me." Tears were running down Karen's cheeks. "She squeezed my hand and said that it wasn't a dream. Grandma was in heaven waiting for us. She asked me if I believed her." Karen brushed tears off her cheeks. "I told her I want to . . . Can you explain it?"

Moss went to the window and stared quietly for a few minutes. He came back and stood next to her seat. He put a hand on her shoulder. "My explanation doesn't come from science. I believe Gabby's soul, for lack of a better term, visited a divine dimension. Heaven seems as good a name as any. I think that's what you want to believe as well. Embrace it."

Karen smiled. "I do believe Gabby experienced heaven." She stared at the drawing. "I feel joyful about it now. Thank you."

Word Count 1995

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