Text: Mark 2:1-4
It was the spring of 1986. The “Rag-Tag Radicals” were up against “Paul’s Preachers.” I was on the “Rag-Tag Radicals” team. No surprise there. “Paul’s Preachers” were…well, they were exactly who their name said they were. And in case you haven’t figured this out yet, these two teams were a part of the Southeastern Seminary Spring Softball League—a co-ed league consisting of six teams of seminary students and a few professors and staff.
I was the catcher for the “Rag-Tag Radicals” and John Steely, professor of Church History and a beloved member of this church until his death on Good Friday of that same year, was the pitcher when he wasn’t playing first base. Allow me to say here that if there has ever been a second Jesus to walk the earth, it possibly was John Steely. And those of you here who knew John Steely know what I mean. Deborah or John, Jr., his daughter and son, may tell you differently but I kind of doubt it. John Steely, simply put, emanated the presence of the divine.
But let me get back to my softball game between the “Rag-Tag Radicals” and “Paul’s Preachers.” This particular game was early in the season and I was catching and Dr. Steely was pitching. My team had the field and I’m guessing we were somewhere in the 4th or 5th inning. One of the “Paul’s Preachers,” a big guy (their team had few women on it) stepped up to the plate, took a couple of warm-up swings and then stepped into the batter’s box. Now, in seminary we didn’t have proper equipment so I wasn’t wearing a face mask or chest protector. But I was, or what I thought was, a safe distance from the batter. Dr. Steely released his first pitch to the batter, the batter raised his front leg and with everything he had he swung that bat. I heard the crack as the bat hit the ball and then all of the sudden everything went black. In the far distance I could hear people saying things like, “Somebody get a towel. Put pressure on it. Who has a car nearby? We’ve got to get her to the hospital.” “Paul’s Preacher” player had done what every player knows not to do. After hitting the ball he had slung his bat and it had landed on my left temple. And because facial wounds tend to bleed profusely, everyone on that field thought I was dead. [Read more…]