Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hometown Water


Here is something from a story I am working on that may be of interest to readers of this column. In the middle of the 19th Century, three young bachelors of Washington, Arkansas breakfasted sumptuously together every Sunday before church. They were the twins, store-owners Tom and Lum Williams, age 30 and Dr. Elias Hart, age 27, who had recently established his four-room clinic next to Williams store. Lum served up plump corn cakes and salt pork from the potbelly stove situated in the middle of the hardware section. On this windy and rainy Easter morning, the heat from the stove was most welcome.

“Y’all planning on church this morning?” Tom asked and then went on before the others could answer, “I don’t think I’m going to make it in this storm. I would like to stay warm and dry this morning. Besides, The Reverend is preaching a series on the Second Coming and I find it very speculative. There is nothing definite in those sermons. I need edification this morning, not speculation.”

“But brother,” Lum jokingly put in, “You don’t want to waste that rare bath you took last night. I know you put on clean clothes, too, all the way down, for I saw you.”

Tom grinned good-naturedly and replied, “I’ll just have a sanitary Sabbath here at the store on my own, thank you. I have been pondering a passage of scripture I need to spend some prayerful time seeking the Lord’s counsel on.” The brothers shared a two-room apartment in the back of the store, while Elias made his home next door at the clinic. Many people in town felt that Tom had missed a call to the pulpit, but he believed everyone, not just preachers, should be interested in understanding scripture.

Dr. Hart took a sip of coffee and found it satisfactory before he said, “Tom, are you still worried about that Bethlehem water episode from II Samuel 23?”

“No, not worried, Doc. I am more concerned than worried. I do not understand it is all. Why did King David consider the water from his own home town of Bethlehem, water that he requested, as poison to be poured out on the ground?”

Lum chewed on a piece of dry salt meat as he said ponderously, “Brother, listen. The scripture is very clear. There is nothing puzzling there. David, having been in an exhausting fight, longed for water from his own city. Isn’t that how we feel about the taste of Washington water when we go to Fulton for supplies? That water down there tastes sulfuric, as if it bubbles up from Hades itself. All David wanted was water that tasted right, like our water tastes to us.”

“Why did he pour it out, then?”

“Because those mighty men had risked their very lives to fetch it. He honored them by pouring it out,” Lum explained.

“He should have drunk it. We eat and drink the Lord’s Supper, don’t we?”

“That is a very good point, brother,” said Lum, “but I find no typology in the passage.” And so the story goes.

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