One of the questions I’m asked most often on tours is, “Have you seen a ghost?” I will usually respond that I don’t typically see ghosts or spirits, but rather I feel them.
It just so happened one night on a film set where we were filming in an old frontier town in PA that I passed by this church on my way to the bathroom. The spookiness of the sky and the setting was intriguing, and I wanted to capture the essence of our domain at night. I sent the picture immediately to our group chat, whereupon another guide said, “Oh, yes, I see the ghosts.”
This was actually not what I wanted to hear! Especially as I stood directly in front of that said church with those said ghosts right at that moment. But I chose to be brave and do some serious looking…. Until I heard an awful noise and suddenly I was screaming and running and laughing at myself all at once towards the others who were still on set with me. I ran into the area where we’d been having our dinners and snacks, our hair and makeup done, and I realized perhaps that it was the chairs being pushed around by others in that holding space. Perhaps because it was a camplike setting and the walls of that structure were not entirely insulated, I had simply heard chairs scraping across the wooden floor. I was somewhat out of breath due to the excitement when I got up the nerve to ask the two women who worked there and had an ancestral home there if there were ghosts in the church.
“Oh yes, of course!” said Jacy.
Her sister replied, “And she wants me to stay here overnight! No way!”
So it was clear that in fact there were plenty of ghost tales to be told in this old frontier town of the 1800s, the town whose homes we’d been filming in, the town whose roads we’d been traversing for a week. But then Jacy also said, after being told about my picture, “Oh there are things in the window that would account for those images.”
Aha. Well then. That’s settled. So I went back. YES! I went back to see if what Jacy indicated was really what I was seeing. Because you see, as a ghost tour guide, I like to be realistic about the images I’m presenting. I like to not be hypervigilant and think every shadow or every light we see IS a ghost. Maybe it’s a play of lighting, or just the reflections from the night sky, or whatever else might affect the pictures we get. And that night I couldn’t quite tell. I couldn’t tell if there were things in the window that would give the sense of faces behind them, or if there was moonlight splaying in just a way that anyone would capture such an image as a ghostly one.
The following morning as I passed the church again, I decided to take a look in the daylight. As I examined the windows, I didn’t quite see that Jacy’s explanation fit the bill. I didn’t see the things she said were there. And then it happened. There in broad daylight. That feeling I get when I don’t see but rather feel the ghosts. That heaviness in my chest- not so much that I can’t breathe, but maybe that I really don’t want to.
I took my cue and I took my leave of that church immediately.
So tell me, do you think the ghosts only come out at night?