This is my first attempt at writing fiction. I got inspired to write this during my recent trip to Canada. It is a story about an unexpected trauma triggering a spiritual rebirth.
Katherine was having another of her nightmares. As always, she was running for her life and a tall man wearing a mask was furiously pursuing her. About to be captured, Katherine ran toward a bridge she saw in the distance. Out of options, she jumped off the bridge with no clue as to what was below. The dream repeated again and again. She was in a perpetual state of running and fright. At some point, she would reach the conclusion that she might be dreaming. She found it amusing and ironic that her mom used to say “follow your dreams” or “follow your heart”. In this case she was being followed in a dream. She felt lonely, remote and cold. She had to find a way out.
This time, the dream was vivid as ever, but this time it seemed different. This time, she saw a bright light across the bridge so, instead of jumping off into the unknown, she ran towards the light. Just before reaching it…
She sat up in bed, blinking in surprise to find the lights on in her room. Why would she sleep with the lights on?
A moment later she realized that she wasn’t alone—a strange woman was in the room with her. A heartbeat more and she realized that it wasn’t her room at all, and that the strange woman at her bedside was a nurse.
“Thank God you’re conscious,” the nurse said, smiling. “Everyone was worried about you, dear. You’ve been in a coma for over a month.”
Stunned and dazed, Katharine looked away and said nothing as the nurse paged a doctor.
Katherine was in her mid-thirties, lived in Kingston, Ontario and worked as a school teacher part time, which gave her time to do some traveling. She had an ordinary and uneventful life. She had one hobby, and that was to play the piano, but she was not that good at it. She did have a good voice and comforted herself by playing classical music and singing folk songs as best she could. Most of the time she kept to herself, and came across to others as sad and disconnected. She had one good friend, Neil, a musician from Toronto, who played the guitar. They played together from time to time.
One summer day she was out with Neil and some of his friends on the shore of Lake Ontario swimming. She had dived from the dock, not knowing how shallow the water was, and hit the lake bed. With her head swollen and hands bleeding, she made it to the shore by herself, but in a state of disbelief and panic. She was thankful. however. for being lucky that her hands had cushioned her head from a more severe collision.
She was taken to a nearby hospital and was told that she’d suffered a severe concussion. It was at the hospital that she suddenly went into a coma that lasted a month before she came out of it. A few people visited and stayed with her in the hospital—her parents and siblings, and of course Neil. A few weeks after regaining consciousness, when she stopped showing signs of dizziness and head trauma, she was released from the hospital. She re-started her daily routines by going back to work, not knowing what was about to happen.
One day after arriving home after work, tired and exhausted, Katharine was drawn to the piano and began playing. To her disbelief and amazement, she started seeing black and white squares in her head that triggered her hands to move. She could not believe it; she had the power to play the piano flawlessly. She called Neil and told him all about it. She had emerged from the coma with musical talent she had never had before. Her life seemed to have dramatically changed.
The doctors concluded after examining her that she had Acquired Savant Syndrome, a condition in which people display profound and unexpected abilities after suffering head trauma. She was told that it is a very rare condition and only a handful of cases like this have been documented in the world. She was reminded many times that the condition might be temporary and she should have regular checkups. She was thankful for this gift but it came at a price—she had frequent migraine headaches and a occasional fainting spells.
Still, she applied for a job to play on a one-day cruise that would navigate through the thousand islands of Lake Ontario. The cruise departed every day from the shore a few minutes from her home. Partly because of her unique and suddenly acquired talents and her fine voice, she was given the job, and began performing on the night shift. She had a few songs prepared, and liked playing upstairs on the open upper deck.
Her embrace of music also awakened a passion for and unlocked spiritual powers that had been dormant inside her until now. She began to long for the unknown, and felt spiritually alive and thirsty. On the upper deck, with the breeze and the stars twinkling in the clear sky, she experienced a feeling of ecstasy that no words could describe.
A few weeks passed by, and she continued to enjoy playing on the cruises—especially the few occasions when Neil joined her—but her migraines were becoming more painful and she started feeling alone and lost like before.
One day, Neil called Katherine and said, “A musical group that was supposed to perform at the outdoor amphitheater this Saturday has cancelled and the organizers are desperately looking for a replacement. I recommended you. They already know your story and seem very excited.”
Katharine accepted on one condition: that Neil perform with her.
On the day of the performance, around sunset, with the birds still singing in the summer sky, Katharine got the worst headache she’d ever had. She did not say anything to Neil, knowing it would upset him. The amphitheater they would perform in consisted of an open space exquisitely located at the center of town, overlooking the lake; it was one of the premier venues for the arts in Kingston. On this day, there was also an exhibit that displayed the paintings of a local artist.
A crowd of about one hundred people were waiting as Neil and Katharine walked out on stage. After being introduced, the MC shared the story of Katherine’s newly acquired musical talent. Then, they began to play. Neil performed a couple of songs followed by Katherine.
As Katherine started her performance, her headache became intolerable. She stopped playing and told the audience, “I’d like to pause for a moment. You all know how often we busy our lives with the mundane and the trivial, it’s like living in the lower deck of a ship. We spend our lives totally oblivious of the fact that there is an upper deck that connects us to the heavens, with the stairs leading to it paved by prayer and meditation. When we die, the lower deck will no longer be there. I am in a lot of pain right now,” she continued, “and would like to sing a song that I wrote, that has never been performed before, It was written in a time of great difficulties, and also a time of spiritual transformation. The name of this song is *Cry*”.
She started singing with an unusually penetrating voice, purified by pain and suffering.
“As our lives pass us by
Dedicate all our time to the one who gave us life
Without you, can’t find the meaning and every day live life alone
I stumble and I fall, without your guidance, don’t know which way to go
So I Cry…you’re so far away, Cry…closer than our life vein
Dedicate everything we do … we want to serve you
if you let us be one of your armies we will give our heart to the battle
you fill our life with meaning, you give us hope, a future for mankind
if the world could see what your Word means
then we would all be united, but now we
cry…you’re so far away, cry…closer than our life vein
Seems to me, I live my life in error, wandering through the wilderness alone
you gave us this world , give you our hearts, you make our world better
cry cry cry cry,”
With tears falling on her face she continued on after the song, repeating part of a powerful healing prayer that Neil shared with her after her accident:
‘I call on Thee 0 Spirit, 0 Light, 0 Most Manifest One! Thou the Sufficing, Thou the Healing, Thou the Abiding, 0 Thou Abiding One!’,
She fainted, then, and with her head spinning, she found herself in the dream again. But this time she felt so desperate that without hesitation, she ran toward the light across the bridge. A door opened before her, and she found herself flying through the portal to soar in the limitless space of the heavens, propelled only by the love of God; traversing distance with ease and swiftness, until she reached her abode in the City of Light where she saw the face of her Beloved.
Katharine had developed a chronic brain aneurysm and was taken from the concert stage to the hospital. With friends and family beside her, she passed away peacefully.
A few days later at the funeral proceedings, it was Neil who gave the eulogy. He said:
“Katherine loved butterflies; we actually went to the butterfly conservatory in Niagara Falls not too long ago. Have you ever seen a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? Well I have! The transformation is slow and tedious, taking a weeks, and after this, they don’t live long, and some only live a day or two after their transformation is complete. The same was true of Katharine; her awakening started after her accident; her subsequent time on this earth was short, very short indeed. Her newly acquired musical talents were but a shadow compared to her spiritual birth. She is now a beautiful and radiant spirit soaring through the heavens.” As his tears fell, he added, “Don’t feel sad for her. Let us all comfort ourselves in the thought that she took her flight to the unseen realm in a blissful state of prayer.”
He concluded by reading this passage from The Seven Valleys by Baha’u’llah:
“There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart’s wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.
At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: “Surely this watchman is Izra’il, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me.” His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented. Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the garden.
And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: “O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or he was Israfil, bringing life to this wretched one!”
 Song Cry performed in the Ukraine September 1999—Written by Jason Cohen
 Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 90
 Baha’u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 13