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Friday 3 February 2017

Another Voice in the Dark

     A woman told how, just as she was about to cross the street, she got a strong premonition, a "bad feeling", and turned away - just before an out-of-control vehicle careered past. If she had attempted to cross, she would have been killed. This is an example of the most common ESP anecdote: a psychic warning of danger out of the blue. But is it possible for the premonition to be externalised as a voice? In my post of July 2014 I recounted the experience of a 19-year-old boy who was saved by a voice in the dark. He eventually went on to become a clergyman. Well, I have now been reminded of a similar experience by a man a few years older, and he, interestingly enough, also went on to become a clergyman.
     Peter Marshall (1902 - 1947) left Scotland for the U.S. in 1927, where he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, and eventually became Chaplain to the United States Senate. But this adventure took place when he was working as a machinist in the old country. One summer, apparently some time in the period 1923 - 1926, he was working just across the border in Bamburgh, when he had an experience which left an indelible impression on him. I shall let his widow describe it.
     Walking back from a nearby village to Bamburgh one dark, starless night, Peter struck out across the moors, thinking he would take a short cut. He knew that there was a deep deserted limestone quarry close by the Glororum Road, but he thought he could avoid that danger spot. The night was inky black, eerie. There was only the sound of the wind through the heather-stained moorland, the noisy clamour of wild muir fowl as his footsteps disturbed them, the occasional far-off bleating of a sheep.
     Suddenly he heard someone call, "Peter! . . ." There was great urgency in the voice.
     He stopped. "Yes, who is it? What do you want?"
     For a second he listened, but there was no response, only the sound of the wind. The moor seemed completely deserted.
     Thinking he must have been mistaken, he walked on a few paces. Then he heard it again, even more urgently:
     "Peter! . . ."
     He stopped dead still, trying to peer into that impenetrable darkness, but suddenly stumbled and fell to his knees. Putting out his hand to catch himself, he found nothing there. As he cautiously investigated, feeling around in a semicircle, he found himself on the very brink of an abandoned stone quarry. Just one step more would have send him plummeting into space to certain death.   
Reference: Catherine Marshall (1952), A Man Called Peter, Peter Davies Ltd., p 16 of the 1955 edition.

     Note that, in both this case and the one in my earlier post, the voice was not inside the person's head; it presented as an external sound. I have published both accounts because they were fully documented. So now, lest it remain forgotten, I might as well record for posterity something for which I can cite no documentation but my own memory.
     It was on daytime TV in Australia (Channel 7, I think), and it would have been during the 1980s. A compère was interviewing a woman who had suffered the harrowing experience of having her small boat being swept out to sea, I think in the region of New Guinea. She was describing how the boat was being swept along by the current, and her conversation went something like this:
    "It now moved out around the headland, and since it was only about half a mile away, I thought I might try to swim to shore, but God spoke to me and told me not to, so I stayed in the boat. As it turned out, this was a good thing, because the rocks there would have been very dangerous. Well, after that ..."
     All this was spoken in a completely normal voice, without any emphasis, as if there was nothing extraordinary in the content. I did a double take. So did the compère, who interrupted her.
    "Wait a minute," he said. "You said God spoke to you. What do you mean: like a voice out of the air?"
    "Well, yes."
    "Has this happened any other time?"
    "No." (All this in a completely blasé tone.)
    "Are you religous?"
    "I am now. I wasn't then."
    We never did find out how she got back to shore.

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