Anna returns home, but her future looks bleak.
Note: This is part of a serial fiction series focusing on the life of St. Anna Schäffer, following the life of a fictional character as she encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday! For past chapter(s) click here.
“Finally,” thought Anna, “I am going home!”
It was a bittersweet homecoming for Anna. She spent several months at the University Clinic of Erlangen, hoping that the surgeries would repair the damage done to her legs.
However, 30 surgical procedures later, her situation wasn’t any better than it was before. The initial pain of her burns remained, though it lessened in intensity. Open wounds on her legs began to fester, and there was little to be done for them.
Even the doctors at Erlangen declared her a “hopeless case.” She might be able to survive for a few years, but she would be bedridden. All she would ever be able to do was lie in her bed, immobile, for the rest of her life.
It was a depressing fate, but Anna was at least looking forward to being in her own room and not a sterile hospital bed. It was terribly lonely there. The only people she ever saw were nurses and doctors, always poking at her legs and scratching their heads, unsure about what to do.
Sofia was eager to see Anna as well. It was a traumatic experience to see Anna fall into the boiling water and the last several months had been difficult to endure, knowing that her friend might never walk again.
As the carriage arrived at her house, the rest of Anna’s family greeted her, along with Sofia.
“Anna! It is so good to see you home again! How did it go? What did the doctors say about your legs?”
“Sofia! It is wonderful to see you again! Let’s wait until I get into my bed. The carriage ride was rather bumpy and my legs are burning.”
The carriage driver and Anna’s mother gingerly lifted Anna from the carriage and into a wheelchair that they rolled into the house. Anna’s mother had prepared her room for her return, already knowing that this would be her residence for the foreseeable future. After Anna was helped into her bed, she again addressed Sofia.
“Sofia … as you can see, I can not walk. I don’t think I will ever walk again. They said I was a “hopeless case.”
Sofia was stunned by this diagnosis. Why didn’t the university doctors cure her?
“I am sorry to hear that, Anna …” Sofia drifted off into silence, not knowing how to respond to her friend’s bleak future.
“Don’t worry about me, Sofia. Jesus was right. Remember that dream I told you about? He said that I would have to suffer a great deal! I tried to run away from those words, but I couldn’t.”
After a few minutes of awkward silence, Sofia asked Anna the obvious question.
“What are you going to do all day? I couldn’t imagine being forced to be in my bed for the rest of my life.”
“I have been thinking about that for the past several months. It is tempting to give in to hopelessness and despair. I nearly did when I was in the hospital. I struggled with the suffering that Jesus has given me. I didn’t want it! I begged him for many months to take away this suffering. Then one morning the sun was rising and I understood what I needed to do.”
“What was that?”
“I needed to accept this suffering from the hands of God, my heavenly father. Instead of running away from it, I needed to embrace it! This room of mine is now my ‘workshop of suffering’! It is the place where I will work for God, offering to him all my pains, joys and sorrows of this life.”
Sofia noticed that Anna’s face began to brighten and her mood was remarkably positive. If she were in Anna’s place, she would have prayed for death. It was a strange thing to hear her friend talk about her “workshop of suffering,” but then again, Anna did pray a lot, much more than she ever did.
“Okay, so this is your ‘workshop,’ but you didn’t answer my question. What are you going todo? Pray all the time?”
Anna paused for a minute before responding, “I am not sure yet. I need to think about that for a few days. Come back next week and I will have your answer!”
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!