“Samuel! Samuel!” Anna called when she woke up. “Are you still here?” Did he leave me, too? she wondered. For a moment she felt a sense of panic at being all alone.
Then she heard a voice singing outside the cabin. It was such a beautiful voice, heavily accented but wonderfully soothing. “I wonder if I can sit up. The only injuries that I know about are my head, my arm and my leg. I’m so tired of just lying here.”
Jesus, please help me to sit up, she prayed. Say ‘Hello’ to Jackson for me in Heaven. Tell him I miss him. Help Matt to find what he’s searching for. Thank you for keeping me alive during the train wreck. Comfort the families with loved ones who died, including Jackson’s parents.”
Using her arm that was not injured, Anna sat up in the bed without causing further pain to her injuries. I sure wish I had a mirror. She ran her fingers through her hair and felt many tangles. She knew when it came time to get the tangles out it would hurt. One side of her head was very tender, and seemed to have something caked in her hair – mud or blood or who knows what else. It had dried, and hurt too much to try to remove it. Maybe Samuel or Andriel can help me wash my hair later, she hoped.
This was the first time she could see her injured left leg since the accident. It was wrapped with cloth, and seemed to have wooden splints on each side to stabilize it. As far as she could tell, it looked OK otherwise. Her foot was normal color, and so was her leg above the wrappings. She tried to touch the wrapping, and there was definitely pain from touching. Her right arm was wrapped in a similar manner. She thought that maybe a sling around her neck would minimize movement of the arm.
Sitting on the bed, Anna could look out the window and see Samuel. He was facing her direction, but not looking at the cabin. She studied him for a few minutes. He’s such a curious black man. That white hair really stands out on his head. I wonder how old he is. His age isn’t obvious from looking, although I know he’s not young. Does he have a family somewhere? He never mentioned them if he does. Of course, I never asked him either.
She watched him kneel down while he sang, doing something on the ground. Soon she saw him scoop up a rabbit with his hands and hold it close to his face. He stopped singing, and appeared to whisper something in the rabbit’s ear. He gently placed the rabbit back on the ground, and started singing again. The melody carried such a gentle and soothing quality about it. The rabbit slowly hopped away into the bushes.
Two birds landed on the branch in the tree in front of Samuel. He laughed, and held out his arm. They both quickly hopped off the tree and perched on his arm, as if he had called them. Was it possible that they were singing with him? Or was he singing with their song? Who is this man – some kind of a Cajun medicine man - or a miracle healer? she wondered. Is he an angel? He certainly doesn’t look like an angel – no wings, no flowing robes, no flying around the room.
Anna continued to watch him. He picked up the body of a squirrel that was lying on the ground, not moving, probably dead. She heard him pray out loud, seemingly for all of the world to hear, “Lord, thou carest for all Thy creatures, both great and small. I pray that Thee will restore the life to this creature, Thy humble gray squirrel. Let this healing be an example of Thy great power to all those that may be watching. Thank You.”
Amazingly, she saw the tail that was hanging out of his hands begin twitching, then curl upright around his hands. “Thou are truly glorious,” he shouted for all the forest to hear. Then he laughed loudly. He opened his hands as the squirrel sat there in his cupped palms. He raised his hands toward a tree branch. The squirrel jumped with all its might. It grabbed the tree limb, and scampered to the crotch of the branch beside the trunk. Samuel began singing again, as he turned and looked directly at Anna.
He knew all along that I was watching him, she realized. His look was not accusing, but instead beckoned her to consider carefully what she had witnessed. She continued to watch him, as he walked toward the doorway of the cabin. Could he be an angel? she wondered again.
“I’m glad to see you making progress,” he told her when he came into the room. “Sitting up is a good next step. You might even want to try walking soon.”
“Walking? What about my broken leg?”
“It is healing. Maybe if I help you, you would like to walk now. Fresh air would probably do you good.”
“For now, sitting up is enough.”
“Are you hungry, Anna?”
“Yes, I’m starving, and really thirsty.”
Samuel left the room and came back just a few minutes later with scrambled eggs, and a bowl of steaming grits. The eggs had been scrambled in butter, and a large slice of butter was melting over the top of the grits.
“Wow, Samuel, you’ve outdone yourself. That smells great.” After the first bite, she knew that the smell was merely a hint at how good the food really was. There was a large glass of cold milk, and a glass of cold water on the tray. It only took her a few minutes to finish all the delicious food, and drink both the milk and the water.
“Do you desire more?” Samu-el asked when she finished eating.
“No, that was plenty. Thank you so very much for taking care of me. You’ve been a wonderful helper. Now I need to go to the bathroom. Where’s Andriel when I need her?”
“I will carry you. As soon as I take this tray to the kitchen I will be right back for you.”
He left with the tray of empty dishes, and quickly reappeared in her room. She noticed that he wore leather gloves on his hands. Without appearing to strain at all, he lifted her out of the bed and carried her to the bathroom. The bathroom was located right outside of the bedroom that she had been in. This was the first time she had been out of the bed since waking up the first time. Was that yesterday, or the day before? she wondered.
There appeared to be only three rooms in this bayou cabin – the bedroom where she had been spending all her time, the bathroom which was quite small with only a sink and toilet, and the kitchen with a table and chairs and a couple of extra chairs arranged along the wall. Consistent with what Samu-el told her, there was no mirror in the bathroom.
Back in the bed a few minutes later with Samu-el’s help, she asked him, “Samuel, what day is it?”
“Today is Friday. If you are wondering how long you have been in Samu-el’s care, I can help. The train wreck occurred in the middle of the night, early Wednesday morning.”
“There are still gaps in my memory. I don’t remember Andriel bringing me here.”
“You were unconscious. She carried you.”
“Thank her for me when you see her.”
“She knows that you are grateful.”
“Who is she? Is she an angel, or a guardian?”
“Andri-el fills many roles and responsibilities – but you should think of her as a willing helper.”
“How do you know her, Samuel?”
“I know many, including Andri-el? Don’t concern yourself with me or with her. We are here to help you get well.”
“I am getting well with your help. Thank you.”
“Your healing is thanks enough, my child.”
“When I saw you outside earlier, Samuel, it looked like you brought that squirrel back to life. It looked like some kind of miracle. How is that possible?”
Samu-el laughed his delicious laugh. Anna couldn’t keep from laughing too. “My child,” he told her when his laughter subsided, “you have a wonderful sense of humor. You know, as well as I do, that only God gives life. Samu-el is merely a healer. God works the miracles.”
“Then it was a miracle, wasn’t it?”
“Life is a miracle, Anna, from the smallest creature in the ground to the largest creature in the oceans. Life is to be cherished and nurtured, and used wisely. God is to be worshiped. Live life to the fullest, in harmony with God and God’s creation.”
“It seems like I’m always too afraid to live life to the fullest.”
“Anna, you had a bad experience as a child, which has instilled fear in your heart. But that fear does not need to rule your life. You survived the airplane that crashed into your house. Now you have survived a train wreck in the bayou.”
“There’s a lesson here, isn’t there?” she realized. “You’re trying to tell me something, right?”
“All of life’s experiences offer you a chance to learn and to grow,” Samu-el counseled her. “You can choose to take those experiences and learn fear and distrust. Or you can take those same experiences and learn to trust and rely more fully on God’s grace and mercy and protection.”
“You talk of God as if you personally know him, Samuel?”
“We can all know God. He sent His only son Jesus to allow all people to know Him through faith.”
“I’m a Christian, Samuel. I do trust in God and Jesus. But I’m still scared of things. If you could see the nightmares that grip me at night you would probably be scared too.”
“Anna, are the nightmares always about your parents and the plane crash?”
“Yes, how did you know that?”
“I know many things. My healing runs deeper than just your physical body. I have another question for you. Think carefully before answering. Have you had those nightmares since being in my care?”
Anna thought about that question. No, she didn’t remember having nightmares during the last few days. She looked at him and said, “You already know the answer to that question, don’t you?”
“I know that if you give your fears over to God, and lay your burdens on Him, then He will carry them for you.”
“That’s easy to say, Samuel, but much harder to do.”
“Just because something is difficult for you or me does not make it impossible for God. You saw the squirrel that had been dead jump from my hands to the tree branch. If you look outside you can still see her running and jumping among the branches. Can giving your burdens to God be any more difficult than giving life to that small squirrel?”
“Tell me how to do it.”
“Anna, you already know how. Pray, believing that you will receive what you pray for. If you pray for peace from fears and nightmares, believe that you will receive that peace. It is very simple.”
“Praying is easy, believing is harder. If I can’t see it, then how am I to believe it?”
“Faith, my child, faith. What you see is not always believable, nor is it the whole picture. Do you remember all the loud shouting and noise that you heard when Andri-el was speaking with you?”
“Yes, she said it was Luseth, or something like that. What is a luseth?”
“If you look out the window, I believe you can see Lu-seth if you look real hard. He might just be visible for a few minutes for you.”
Anna looked outside but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. She could still see the squirrel running among the tree branches. Otherwise, nothing else was moving except a few birds. “I don’t see anything. Where am I supposed to be looking?”
“Look closely. You see the tree with the squirrel. Beside it is another tree. Toward the top of that tree is Lu-seth.”
As she looked, she suddenly heard the loud voice again. It seemed to be coming from a bird in the top of the tree. “What are you doing in there?” she heard. “It’s not fair. She can see me and hear me, right? Now you’ll see what I can do. Just wait…” Abruptly the voice stopped.
“I see a bird in the top of the tree. But where is the voice coming from?”
“What you see is not a bird. That is Lu-seth. He boasts loudly and has much to say. Yet he is very small in size. He is not to be feared because God protects you.”
“How do I know that creature in the tree can’t hurt me? His voice scares me.”
“His voice is meant to scare you, but God protects you. Just as God keeps you from seeing Lu-seth or hearing him, God also keeps him from harming you. There is much in this world that cannot be seen with your eyes. The sun provides warmth for the entire earth, but you can only see the visible light, merely a fraction of all the energy that reaches the earth. Sound can be strong enough to break glass, but it cannot be seen. The wind blows strong enough to move the mightiest of ships, but you cannot see it, just it’s results. In a similar manner, God has many protections for you that you cannot see, including keeping Lu-seth and his kind from being seen or heard.”
Anna thought about that for a minute. She looked back in the tree, but did not see Luseth or any bird. Looking down, she said, “Samuel, why didn’t God protect Jackson?”
“How do you know God did not protect Jackson?”
“Jackson was killed in the wreck, wasn’t he?”
“Jackson went Home. His time here on this earth was not the same as your time. His work here must have been finished, because God called him Home. Remember that God has a very different view of what you call death, since He exists on both sides of it.”
Anna did not answer, but couldn’t keep from smiling. Samuel didn’t seem to understand what she was smiling about. “You take yourself so seriously, Samuel,” she told him.
“Samu-el does start preaching sometimes, doesn’t he?” the black man said with a smile of his own. Then he laughed, breaking the serious mood that had settled over their conversation.