patty kirk

patty kirk lying down, getting up, sitting at home, walking down the road doing deuteronomy 6:7

Monday, December 26, 2011

I didn't know he was like that

Siloam Springs, Arkansas—located just across the stateline from our Oklahoma farm—is where we do most of our business. We refer to it mostly as “Siloam.” Or, for short, “town,” as in “I’m going to town.” I work and buy groceries there—at a small store called Harps, which everyone still refers to by the name of its supplier a decade ago, IGA. I take my mother-in-law to Siloam to get her toenails trimmed. I had our babies at the hospital there, and our family practitioner, who cut both of them out of me when they refused to come out on their own, has his practice there. We set up the family cell phones there and thus all have Arkansas area codes and Siloam Springs prefixes, even though not one of us has ever lived there. Every other month, I lead a book discussion group at the tiny Siloam Springs public library, where we shift beat up armchairs and couches into a circle back in the video section.

Although Siloam Springs has a small university and its public schools, unlike those my daughters attended, are housed into separate elementary, middle, and high school facilities, it has no mall and only the most minimal of restaurant options outside of fast food: a couple of caf├ęs popular with college students, a place that serves Venetian-style wood-fired pizzas, and a Mediterranean restaurant with a bar—the first downtown drinking facility in this dry county, its liquor license likely acquired by political shenanigans I don’t want to know about since I cherish being able to grade papers there while sipping a glass of overpriced but wonderful Earthquake zinfandel.

Siloam is, in brief, a one university, one hospital, three nail salon town with a pretty downtown park and with a major U.S. highway and an algae-filled creek running through it.

“What is the name of that town? Silent Springs? Salem Springs?” my sister Dorothy asked me on the phone the other day. "I never understand when you say it." Dorothy has lived her whole life in California.

“No. Siloam. S-I-L-O-A-M. You know, like the Pool of Siloam in the Bible, where angels supposedly stirred the waters and people went to get healed. I think people used to come to Siloam Springs to be healed, too.”

“I don’t know that story.”

“Oh, you know. There’s that whiney guy who’s paralyzed or something—lying on a mat—who complains that he can’t get down to the water while it’s being stirred because other people get in his way and no one will help him. And Jesus is like, ‘Do you want to walk, or what?’ And he says, 'I guess so.' So Jesus tells him, ‘Well then, pick up your mat and walk.'”

“Jesus doesn’t sound very nice.”

“No. People always talk about him as being all meek and mild, but there are a lot of places in the gospels where he’s definitely not. Like there's this woman who keeps following after him and yelling that she wants him to heal her daughter. But she’s not a Jew—Phoenician or something—and the disciples want to send her away, and Jesus tells her, ‘I only came to the Jews. It’s not right to give the Jews’ bread to the dogs.’”

“He said that?”

“Something like that.”

“And that’s the end of the story?”

“No. She argues him down. Says, ‘But even dogs get to lick up the crumbs under the table.’ So Jesus gives in to what he calls her ‘great faith’ and heals the daughter.”

“Wow. I didn’t know he was like that.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of weird. He’s not at all what people think he is.”