Summary: Jesus' sacrifice to become the savior of the world.
“Little Annie” was hopelessly insane. Well, that is at least what many of the people who were around her thought. As a young girl she was kept in a cage on the lowest level of a treatment facility for the mentally ill. In her day they could and did call it an asylum. Her doctors saw no hope for Little Annie so they confined her, literally, to a cage in the damp and dark basement of the facility. There Little Annie lived in a world with very little light and even less hope.
Little Annie was like an unpredictable animal. At times, she would violently attack anyone who came near her. At other moments, she existed in an almost trance-like state, seemingly unaware of anyone’s presence in her little world.
Into this dark dungeon of “Little Annie’s” world came an elderly nurse. The nurse had a gift of compassion for hopeless causes. Her compassion seemed even more special for Little Annie. This nurse began eating her lunch each day, sitting just outside Little Annie’s cage. The child gave no indication she even noticed this loving, elderly visitor.
One day, the nurse left a small plate of brownies just outside, but still within arm’s reach for the little girl inside the cage. Little Annie didn’t seem to notice and even if she did, she didn’t seem to care. The nurse left them sitting on the plate anyway and left to attend to her duties. When she returned she found the plate where she had left it, but the brownies were gone.
This became a regular appointment for these two, the elderly nurse and the “hopelessly insane” little girl. With each visit the nurse would bring a plate of brownies or some cookies or some other such treat for “Little Annie.” These two began to eat lunch together, and the hopeless cause began to talk to the nurse.
The doctors began to notice a change in the young girl and soon she was moved out of her cage and out of the basement onto the main floor of the facility. She began to show great improvement, and after several years of treatment they felt “Little Annie” was well enough to return home.
Little Annie, however, that hopeless cause, decided not to go home. She wanted to stay at the mental facility so she might help others who were without hope in just the same way as that nurse had helped her, a little girl without hope. It was Little Annie who grew up to give help to Helen Keller and others like her. Little Annie was Anne Sullivan, the miracle worker.
When we read or hear that story, we are, of course, drawn to the two well-known characters of the story, characters we know and are familiar with, Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller. I think that is just part of our human nature. We are drawn first to those we have known or at least whom we have heard of before. The story could well lead us to ask, how did a hopeless cause like Anne Sullivan ever become a miracle worker?
It seems to me, however, we should also consider that nameless nurse. How did a nurse become a miracle worker in her own right and bring change to a hopeless life? In her we find one who went beyond the expectations of her job in an effort to help someone who lived in a hopeless situation, really, Anne Sullivan, during her childhood, lived in a hopeless world.
If we pay any attention at all, there are many who live as hopeless causes in the world around us. Perhaps they are not locked in a cage, stored away in the basement of some obscure treatment facility for mentally ill persons. Perhaps they aren’t locked in the hopelessness of physical blindness and deafness. Still, they are locked in their own ways into such a hopeless world. Their world may seem hopeless because of the many problems that can and do exist for so many in the world today, in their lives and even in our own lives. Some of the problems may be physical, mental, emotional, financial, in relationships or even spiritual. Where will they, where will we, find hope in a world that seems so hopeless?
The answer, quite simply is the same as it is for the question, “How did one who was hopelessly insane, one who seemed so profoundly mentally ill, become a miracle worker? The same could be said for yet another similar, really almost identical question. “How did a nurse, completely unknown to the world, change a life so profoundly that what was believed to be hopelessness in the person of Anne Sullivan became the ability to make a profound difference on the hopeless world of other people who in turn shined light into still others hopelessness?” I believe the answer can be summed up in a single but yet profound word, LOVE. Jesus’ words as well as Paul, Peter and John’s teachings remind us of the profound power in that single word, Love.