I don’t believe in ghosts.
Truthfully, I don’t know, but I know I haven’t found the “evidence” I’ve encountered to be very persuasive. But knowing, in some cases quite well, people who have had such experiences, people who are not the type prone to making stuff up, gives me pause. So I decided to pursue a few “first-person” stories, related by the people that experienced them. I’ll share them over a series of posts.
Everyone in Raleigh knew where the haunted house was. Actually, there was supposed to be another one, and that one was supposed to be a castle, at that, but the old white house was still the stuff of legend and lore. I have no idea how long it stood empty at the top of the hill across the street from an elementary school, but as long as I could remember. And I’d never paid much attention to it until the summer of 2004, when I started geocaching.
My favorite geocaches were always the ones that took me to interesting places and told me something about them I never knew. So that’s the kind of thing I liked to set up myself. Thus it was that my second (I think) hide was called “Cheerfield Farm.” The house had burned to the ground several years earlier, but the unkempt footprint still marked the site unmistakably. I never could determine the exact ownership of the property, but no one seemed to mind a few visitors, and the rusty old swings nearby still attracted a few. In order to do the back story for the cache page, I set out to find out the history of the old joint. I had a lot more difficulty than I expected.
Virtually the only references I could find to the old place were ghost stories. The type of things you’d expect: hauntings of sad little children that once lived there. Glowing “energy orbs” in misty, poorly-focused photographs that look suspiciously like water droplets on spider webs a half inch from the camera lens. But the children tie-in worked well because the home really had been a children’s home. I finally found a newspaper article from the early 1920s from when the place opened. It was a “TB” home: not for kids that had tuberculosis, but for kids that were susceptible to it: “sickly” kids, back when the prescribed treatment for such was isolation in the country. That’s all I was ever able to find, and the cache box lasted a few years before seekers encountered complaints, I think from just a grumpy neighbor who didn’t like the foot traffic 1,000 feet from his fence line, and I archived it.
But I never put any stock in the ghost stories. I have a very concrete view of reality. This is not to say I discount the existence of an unseen world; on the contrary, I believe strongly. I am a Bible-believing Christian, and the scriptures speak clearly and unmistakably of the existence of a dimension (for lack of a better term) that is not normally visible to ours. But the idea that the spirits of actual people, who once were alive but are now physically dead, actually hang around geographic locations on Earth: well, in that, I have no confidence.
The Bible itself is not entirely absent of such references, however. There are primarily two instances of formerly living human beings making cameo appearances. I’ll deal with the second another time.
Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36 all refer to an event in the ministry of Jesus commonly known as the Transfiguration. Peter , James (one of the sons of Zebedee) and John (not the other son of Zebedee) accompany Jesus up an unnamed mountain, where He becomes bright as a shining light (see the shekinah glory of God ). While He is radiant, two Old Testament prophets, known to the disciples (though how is not specified) to be Moses and Elijah, appear beside and converse with Jesus. As there were no photographs of Moses and/or Elijah, it may be assumed that the knowledge of their identity was supernaturally revealed to Peter, James, and John. But in any event, the narrative makes it clear that these were actual manifestations of formerly living persons, not angels or visions. “Ghosts,” if you will.
She was driving near Tigard. Nothing unusual, no unusual weather, no indication that anything was amiss. As such things always happen, suddenly, out of nowhere, in the blink of an eye, she struck a pedestrian!! He rolled up the windshield, his face clearly visible striking the glass. She (of course) screamed and slammed on the brakes! “Oh my gosh, I’ve killed someone!” she thought, getting out of the car. You guessed it. No pedestrian lying in the road, no broken windshield, no blood, no nothing. Just a white, wooden cross beside the road where someone had presumably been killed some time before.
He was standing at the end of a hallway in an old hospital building in New Mexico. Standing at the end of the hallway was the quintessential cowboy, his cowboy-booted bowed legs supporting a strong upper body, great big hat, thumbs tucked into the waistband of his pants, everything you’d expect a real, old fashioned cowpoke to look like. Except he wasn’t there. He was just a black outline, a hole in the air, a gap cut out of reality. These types of “ghosts” are called “shadow people,” and are not generally known to be active or violent. They just sort of stand there. Or stand not-there, I guess, would be a better way to put it.
How about you? Do you have a ghost story? First person accounts only, please, but if you know someone who has a first person account, feel free to put them in touch with me at Steve@spencersb.com.