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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 4:14pm.

Blind Until Birth
Steven G. O'Dell © 2008

The bus was coming. Jack could hear it in the distance. He often rode the bus to town and had a great time talking to the driver. Having been blind since near the time he was born, Jack was quite able to comfortably take care of himself. As the bus pulled up in front of him and the doors opened, Jack heard the familiar voice of Harold call out to him. Harold had been a minister for many years and had decided that he wanted a change of pace and applied to be a city bus driver. His background of working with the public and his natural likability had made it easy to hire him.

“Hey, hey! Jack, how you doing today?”

“Wonderful. How are you?”

“Ah, you know...same old thing. But happy.”

“Glad to hear it. So you don't think you will be going back to being a minister, then, any time soon?” Jack chuckled softly.

“Not a chance! Why, do you wanna take my place?”

Jack laughed out loud as he took his seat. “As a minister or as a driver? I think we had better take a poll of your passengers before we do anything that rash.”

Harold began to laugh so hard that Jack wondered if he would catch his breath.

“Now that paints a picture—you with your cane out the window and tapping the pavement. Hahaha! Oh, Jack, you are a pip, do you know that?”

“Perhaps we had better both stick to what we are doing, then?”

“Well, Jack, as much as you study religion and talk about it, you might just as well be a minister. I haven't seen many people that interested and not do something more about it.”

Jack became suddenly serious, pausing briefly before he answered. It was true that he was constantly obsessed with religious studies, but he never seemed to find all the answers he wanted. Many times he found reasonable and plausible explanations. Yet, each new 'plausible' answer eventually seemed to conflict with previous ones. And for the one question he considered the 'big one', the answer continually eluded him, staying just out of reach. It was maddening.

“Harold, I can't stand it. For twenty years I was in that church and then found out that I had been misled. I couldn't do that again. I can't trust that easily anymore. How does one know the truth? Even the numerous churches can't agree on anything, except to dis-agree on almost everything. I couldn't be a member of any of them, let alone the minister.”

“Hang in there, Jack. I'm confident your answer will come. I don't know anyone who wants it as much as you do.”

“I hope you're right.” And yesterday wouldn't be too soon, he thought.

The rest of their conversation was lighter subject matter. Harold quickly changed the subject and kept it mundane until Jack got off at his stop in town. His destination was the local coin shop, where he bought and sold collector stamps and coins. Many people would think that a strange hobby for a blind man, but Jack had made a lot of trustworthy friends over the years and they had never cheated him. At least he had his faith in mankind, even if he couldn't figure out his faith in God as easily.
~//~

Jack finished his business in the coin and stamp shop, stood and visited awhile and then returned to the street, where he counted the steps back to the bus stop and sat on the bench to wait. Again his mind was drawn to the daily pondering that was as much a part of him as were his arms or legs, or his red-tipped cane. It was a surprise to him when he heard a voice coming from next to him on the bench.

“You look to be deep in thought.”

“What? Oh. I didn't know anyone else was here.”

“Sorry to have startled you. I tend to sit and quietly think, myself.”

“Really? What do you think about?”

“Religion, mostly.”

Jack was now stunned for real. What were the odds that this man would be thinking the same thing as he was, at the same instant and on the same corner bench?

“My name is Jack.” He extended his hand into the dark to greet his companion.

“Timothy. Pleased to meet you, Jack. So, what do you think about?”

“This may surprise you, but I often think about religion, also.”

“Well, imagine that. What are the odds?” Timothy chuckled.

“My thoughts exactly.” Jack, too, openly expressed his amusement.

“So, have you come to any conclusions?”

“Hah! Just one—I may never know the truth. Can you expect one man to have the answers when all of Christendom can't agree on anything meaningful?”

“What method are you using, Jack?”

“I have studied the Bible, dozens of commentaries--as many scholarly works as I can get on tape or in Braille. And I have talked to world renown men, by mail or phone, and questioned them at length. Their answers left me empty, mostly. Even they couldn't reach a common conclusion. I agonize over it every day of my life.”

“So,...all you have done is study and question so-called experts.”

The words hit like a brick. Jack just sat and puzzled over the statement. Was Timothy insinuating that he was missing something? Jack had done more than almost any man he knew in researching this matter. What audacity to suggest that he was remiss in his efforts. He was about to object when Timothy spoke again.

“It appears you have neglected the one essential element for finding the truth.”

Jack changed from annoyed to curious, mid-stride. His objection was never voiced, but was replaced instead by a sincere query. “What are you suggesting? What essential element might I have missed?”

'The most simple and the most effective one of all, Jack. You forgot to ask.”

“You are mistaken. I have asked the world's most informed and educated men in this regard....”

“Jack, you miss my point. If you want reliable information on oil painting, do you ask a plumber to teach you?”

“How about getting to the point that you say you have? Plain English, please.” He was beginning to be annoyed again.

“Alright, Jack. Fair enough. You've been asking the wrong sources. I thought you believed your Bible, but I may have been mistaken.”

“I do believe it, mostly. The parts I understand. But whom do you suggest I should be asking, if not the experts?” He was annoyed now.

“Why, God, of course. Who else would have all the answers, Jack? Don't you believe He can answer you? Don't you think He cares about you and wants you to have the truth? He says to ask and it shall be given, to seek and ye shall find, to knock and it shall be opened. You have done the seeking and the knocking, Jack, but not the asking. Can you expect an answer when you have not done all you are required to do? And have you fasted, as He suggests?”

The thought shot through him like a lightning bolt. In all his searching, had he only forgotten to ask the original source, as Timothy suggested? Could it really be that simple? In a very real manner of speaking, Jack's eyes were suddenly opened. It was true! It had been right before him all the time and he had simply not recognized it.

“Oh, my...this changes everything.” Jack spoke in a bare whisper, stunned as he was. On his face was a smile that was trying to break through the tears of joy that had suddenly overtaken him.

Timothy broke the reverie. “Jack, the bus is here and I have to go. You'll be in the best of hands, now that you have a correct view of things. God bless you, Jack.”

Jack could indeed hear the bus drawing closer. It would be Harold on his return trip. Jack reached out wildly as he felt Timothy stand to leave.

“Wait! Thank you for helping me to see. You are a godsend. An absolute godsend.”

“You have no idea, Jack. Take care.” There was a tinge of humor in his answer. Jack could tell he was smiling very widely. And then he turned and his footsteps softened and disappeared altogether.

The brakes soon squealed to a stop before Jack and the door to the bus opened with a hiss, Harold's familiar voice calling out, “Well, Jack, are you ready for the trip back?”

Jack, too, now smiled as widely as he possibly could.“You have no idea, Harold. No idea whatsoever.”

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