The Many Faces of Sophia Morrow

“Sophia Morrow, what did you see when you looked at yourself?”

It was a simple enough question but she froze, unable to answer. She felt trapped, pinned down by the unyielding grey eternity. Where were they? How had she gotten here?

“I–I, uhm, I saw red hair on porcelain skin, I think I looked quite good, actually?” she answered, pulling her gaze from the endlessness around them and looking at the speaker. A man? At least, she thought it was a man but was unable to even see a face underneath the cowl. In fact, the Robed Man could well just have been a robe floating in front of her.

It was silent. Was he perhaps contemplating her answer, perhaps entirely something else? The nothingness in this place made her queasy and was starting to play tricks on her perception.

“No,” the Robed Man suddenly spoke up in his hollow, low voice like stone creaking under the weight of time, “No, that is the wrong answer. You have to do it again.”



“Sophia Morrow, what did you see when you looked at yourself?” the Robed Man asked.

She remembered this question, she thought. Or was it a memory of a dream? She had those sometimes. But, no, she was sure she remembered this question…

And then she realized the nothingness around her! Grey and vast, her form floating in the belly of eternity as unnoticed as shadows at night.

“I–” she paused, suddenly feeling terrified. She had gotten this wrong before. More than once, and each time she had to go back. Back to that place! There was so much pain there! “I–I saw opportunity and loss, successes and failures. I saw things I had done, things I should not have done, and things that I had not done or could not do. I saw a past that was written, a present that was being lived and a future that could be chosen. I saw life.”

She smiled, her memory was coming back to her. She had been in this place many times before but she was sure she had gotten it right this time. She was sure.

The Robed Man was silent, a gentle, unfelt breeze moving his garment. Yet, all around them, there was literally nothing. Silence. Endless. Grey. Eternity…

And then the Robed Man shook his head and said, “No, that is the wrong answer. You have to do it again,” and she was flung back into the world to learn the lesson she had not yet learnt.


“Sophia Morrow, what did you see when you looked at yourself?” the Robed Man asked.

She was ready this time. Maybe she was finally adjusting to this cycle or this place, and her memories from all her other lives came back to her quicker?

She looked at the Robed Man and paused. Was it for just a moment she paused or for a thousand years? Time was hard to track in this grey formless place.

Her thoughts were torrents pouring over themselves. Analysing her previous answers and looking at her previous lives, her thoughts raged onwards. What was the lesson she was missing? What had she seen? What was there to see? What had she gotten wrong? What had she learnt? What had she been? What?

And then it popped into her consciousness, gently like a small bubble bursting. It was a single, clear and unequivocal thought. She paused, considered it, and continued.

“When I looked at myself,” she began, picking her words carefully, “I saw myself. Nothing less and nothing more. Myself, as that is all we can be.”

Silence, and then, “Yes,” the Robed Man said flatly, and she felt a rush of relief and joy like she had never felt before. And–strangely and unexpectedly–she felt a small sense of loss. She may never see the world again. She may never get to be born again. She would never grow up and love and share and cry and fall and rise again. Never, and it made a small part of her immensely sad.

But the Robed Man continued, “And, Sophia Morrow, what do you see when you look at yourself now?”

Sophia narrowed her eyes. This was unexpected but she had never gotten this far before. Then it struck her. It felt like a thunderbolt to her soul as the realization hit her. Not once questioning if this was the right answer, she answered:

“Oh Death,” she began, smiling. Her soul felt one with infinity, at peace with eternity, and touching all that is, was and will be as it touched her back, “Like a chip of rock chiselled from the whole, we are each uniquely ourselves, but like that same rock ground and mixed together with the rest, we can be recast into any form as the whole and the whole is us. Like a drop of water, we are unique, but, like a drop of water, we came from the ocean and we return again to the ocean where we are both still the drop of water and the ocean. We are all part of the whole and the whole is us. So, Death, oh sweet Death, what I see when I look at myself now is everything for I am everything.”

And then Death smiled.

“The first lesson is that of the Individual, unique, flawed and beautiful. The second lesson is that of the Whole from which the Individual originates from, returns to and, indeed, entirely is.”

“Now what?” Sophia asked, smiling.

“As I have done with you,” Death spoke, seemingly picking his words carefully as if he had never said this before, “Now you get to teach this to another soul.”

And then Sophia Morrow was alone in the grey eternity.

Death was no more, and, wrapped in eternity and infinity, Sophia turned around and faced the naked newborn soul that had appeared before her wide-eyed and terrified. She smiled. She felt so much love for it! And she panged with sympathy and sorrow at quite how hard and painful the soul’s road would have to be.

But, like her, this soul must learn the lesson before moving on.

“Andrew Brooke,” Sophia knew exactly what to say, “what did you see when you looked at yourself?”