The healer lived in a small rural farming town. He hadn’t grown up in the community, but he’d lived there long enough to become somewhat of a village fixture. This was especially so because he possessed a rare gift. Where he got it no one was quite certain, but the spectacularity of his ability left many wondering of its origin.

He healed people. Of sicknesses, broken bones, headaches, the whole bit. Some even claimed to have witnessed him raise the dead.

He wasn’t a rich man, nor was he very famous. Somehow, living in a small town made his peculiar capability appear more of a myth than reality to the people in the larger surrounding cities.

Community members often pondered why the man who they knew wasn’t more well known. They had witnessed him do the miraculous on more than one occasion.

Some of the more perceptive village dwellers knew the reason for the healer man’s anonymity.

He tended to forget about the gift on a regular basis. It wasn’t that the man had some sort of amnesia, that when asked to heal or remember a particular miracle, he couldn’t remember. He would, in fact, remember with great detail the breathtaking events of his life.

His forgetfulness manifested as busyness — nonsensical babble and wasted time really — at least that’s how the townsfolk saw it.

He could always be found engrained in some drawn out conversation at the supermarket. He would be seen reading an old book for hours on end in the park.

He was so deeply steeped in his conversing, his readings, his oblivion, that the people were frightened to draw him out.

When men and women attempted to snap him out of whatever world he appeared so caught up in, he would stumble back to reality jarringly, as if they had just woken him from a dream. Apologizing, they would forget what ailment they had come to request healing for and back away, tripping over their feet as they left. Awakening from his trance, the forgetful man’s sleepiness kept him from responding in time before the confused person had skittered away.

He wasn’t forgetful in a spiteful way. His disposition was almost charming at times. Despite his oblivion to the problems of those around him, his fellow townsfolk rarely held him in contempt. Every interaction they had with him was marked by kindness and general good will.

Still though, he often forget to heal.

When someone did get through to him — about their pain, their loss of work, their illness — he didn’t always get around to the actual healing. He might cry. He might empathize and inquire about the oppressed person’s story.

His apparent empathy seemed a guarantee of imminent healing.

And, sometimes, the result was a glorious remedy.

But, more times than not, the oppressed were found wanting.

None of the townspeople had run the stats, but some made remark that their children held better little league batting averages than the healer’s record. His performance (or lack thereof) divided the people into two camps — the hopefuls and the cynics.

On the one hand, his healing powers were so uncommon that many who lived near him counted themselves as fortunate to even have a chance at a cure for their ills. On the other hand, the healer’s unreliable execution left others with little trust. The apparent ease with which he conducted the healings he did perform only confounded the latter group more.

Surely he had every intention to heal. How could he not? He was such a jolly man, a tender soul who did no harm to anyone. Except, of course, the harm of negligence.

When the healer did remember his capability, the results of his workings left the community members in a state of awe. Their cynical (or hopeful) eyes would soften as hope eclipsed into relief.

The benefactors of his healing powers jumped for joy, barely able to keep their tongues still. They whisked from house to house, from the gas station to the local diner, letting everyone know about their quick recovery.

It was miraculous in every sense of the word. The forgetful healer had no medical background, no surgical or remedial training. His works were truly a mystery…and sporadic enough to remain so.

When the latest miracle occurred, the recipient would spread around the joy yet again, their testimony inspiring hope in some, disdain in others.

And so the cycle would go. A healing or two every month or two, then a drought. An impressive feat, followed by preoccupation and unresponsiveness.

No one could deny the healings. The town was small enough that they couldn’t be faked. The lame could be seen walking around town for the next day, week, even decade after the initial feat. Every healing appeared to be 100 percent legit.

At times, the man lined up all sufferers and made everything whole again. On other occasions he would escape back to his home as soon as a single miracle passed from his hands.

He never seemed angered or annoyed. Yet, he was always on his way somewhere. Back to his home maybe, to catch up on some reading or entertain a certain guest. Or, he wanted to get back to his garden, to tend his growing vegetables. He seemed normal enough that the townsfolk couldn’t completely begrudge him his space.

But, didn’t he see the need? Wasn’t it easy enough for him to stay? To heal all day? Apparently not, for his behavior never improved, his forgetful (or spiteful?) nature unchanging.

And so the tension remained.