Jerry E. Wesch (real name) has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is a staff psychologist and researcher at the Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago.
Quite aside from its intrinsic interest, I think of his experience, which happened while he was 11 years old at Felling Little League Park in McCook, Nebraska as “archetypally American,” since it deals with the sacred American pastime of baseball…… 😉
Our cultural biases normally don’t connect sports and transcendent experiences, but this stereotype was broken for me years ago by a very exciting book, The Psychic Side of Sports by Michael Murphy and Rhea White (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1978), work followed up in 1992 by Michael Murphy’s monumental The Future of the Body: Explorations into the further Evolution of Human Nature (Los Angeles: Tarcher).
We will look forward to the next TASTE submission hinted at by Dr. Wesch at the end of his comments.
Angel at Bat
Jerry E. Wesch
I was about 11 years old, playing in a Little League baseball game in my home town in southwest Nebraska. It was the last half of the last inning, my team was behind one run and I was on deck. There was at least one runner on base and two outs.
I was not confident of my hitting ability and profoundly scared of being the guy to let the team down, embarrass myself and feel humiliated. I had no religious training at the time (my father had been traumatized by fundamentalism and wouldn’t go near a church) but I did know that praying was supposed to help when you were in a jam.
I first prayed that the batter ahead of me would resolve the game – get a hit or strike out so I wouldn’t have to bat. He walked. I prayed fervently as I walked to the plate “Oh God, just don’t let me embarrass myself!”
On the second or third pitch, strange things began to happen. The lights in the ball field became very bright, and I could no longer hear anything of the noises of the crowd. Absolutely silent. The world also went into slow motion from my point of view. I felt / heard a presence behind my left shoulder “say” “You’ll hit it into right field and it will be all OK.” The pitcher released the ball, which floated in toward me gently, growing in size till it looked like a basketball. Hard to miss…
I swung the bat and the world went back into “real time” with sound as I hit the ball. It flew just over the second baseman’s glove, rolling into deep right center field. I staggered to first base, turned out onto the grass and fell down, laughing uncontrollably. Two runners scored, game over. I was the hero of the hour.
I didn’t tell anyone about the experience for many years. It did change my life profoundly. First, I became a believer in prayer and secondly, I was ever after certain that the usual Reality is not all that is going on. The search to understand has taken me a long way through many paths, with many subsequent “strange” experiences with the mysterious, but it all started with a ball game and a prayer.
Contributor’s Comments on the Experience
I have always followed the lead of the mysterious clues from whatever it is that “spoke” to me first in the ball game, mostly for personal choices. However, the synchronicities and sense of guidance involved have been a part of my clinical work… I sometimes get very explicit and useful hunches about clients and what would help them, although I can’t count on it. I also felt guided to get involved with the research on healers that fills some of my time currently. The events surrounding my opportunities to get involved are another TASTE submission sometime in the future.