I had been asked
to go to the Mayo Clinic and find out why they made
money on their psychological service operations, while
at Columbia-Presbyterian, it seemed that we were always
losing money. I invited Helen to go to the Mayo Clinic
with me, as I thought it might be helpful for the
two of us to get away. Before the trip, she started
having some very vivid imagery. One of the images
she had was of a Lutheran church, which she described
in great detail. Helen's vivid description of this
church with turrets and towers gave a clear picture
of what it was supposed to look like.
we left on the trip, she wrote that she was convinced
we were going to see this church from the airplane
before we landed. Helen felt it was important to see
this church, to demonstrate that she wasn't losing
her mind. It all seemed rather strange, and I didn't
think we were likely to see a church from the air
or the airport.
the flight, Helen became increasingly nervous as we
approached Rochester for our landing and kept looking
out the window. When she saw no church, she was extremely
upset. I suggested that we rent a taxi to see the
Lutheran churches in the area, to find out if there
was anything that remotely resembled her church. We
hired a driver and asked if there was anything exactly
like that, but he mentioned a lot of other churches
so we went to look at them. I think we saw about 25
churches, none of which bore any resemblance to Helen's
imagery. She really was quite upset. We had to spend
all next day talking to the people at the clinic.
There was nothing to do but go to bed and forget the
the morning we went on a grand tour of the Mayo Clinic
and found out how they did everything. It was beautifully
done. But all the things that could be done in an
upper middle class hospital in Minnesota were obviously
impossible to do in New York City in a clinic setting.
They were also so extremely efficient that even their
examining rooms were equipped with identical equipment
in the same drawers so a doctor using anyone of them
would know exactly which drawer to open for material
or what was needed.
the end of a long day, as I waited for Helen in the
lobby of the hotel, I went over to the newsstand and
saw this little booklet on the history of the Mayo
Clinic. I leafed through it and there was a picture
of a church, exactly as Helen had described it. It
was a Lutheran church, but it wasn't there any more.
The Mayo Clinic had been built on the site of this
church, which had been torn down. I thought it was
exciting. I showed Helen the booklet and told her
she wasn't crazy after all.
had a very mixed reaction. She felt partly a sense
of relief, but she really didn't want to hear about
it. It was obviously too close for comfort. She didn't
want to be psychic, and she never wanted to be called
a psychic. It was typical of the usual discomfort
and ambivalence that Helen suffered in most situations.
She found it very difficult to be totally comfortable.
our flight back from Rochester to New York, we had
to change planes in Chicago. In the waiting room Helen
spotted a young woman whom she thought was in serious
trouble. As I looked around, it seemed that everyone
in this waiting room looked uncomfortable, and I couldn't
see any difference between this particular woman sitting
far off in a corner and other people. I certainly
wasn't tuned in to her.
I wanted to do was to get back to New York and have
some peace and quiet. Helen, very atypical for her,
tuned into this young woman and said she was sure
that she was really in trouble.
said, "I'm going to go over and talk to her."
I said I would just stay where I was. Helen soon came
back and introduced the woman, whose name was Charlotte.
She was leaving her family — two young children
and her husband — and was going off to New York
for the first time in her life. Having never been
on an airplane, she was terrified of flying and also
frightened about going to New York. She was really
just running away. So Helen arranged for Charlotte
to sit with us, and also promised to find her a place
to stay in New York.
we were on the plane I asked Charlotte, "What
would you have done if you had not encountered us?"
She said, " I would have gone to the Lutheran
Church in New York City and somehow they would have
found a place for me."
that point, everything came together, and Helen heard
a very clear voice saying, 'This is my real church,
helping your brother who is in trouble, not any physical
edifice or building.' "