A number of people I know have had experiences that might be considered “paranormal.” The word para is “a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, most often attached to verbs and verbal derivatives, with the meanings “at or to one side of, beside, side by side” (parabola; paragraph; parallel; paralysis), “beyond, past, by” (paradox; paragogue); by extension from these senses, this prefix came to designate objects or activities auxiliary to or derivative of that denoted by the base word (parody; paronomasia), and hence abnormal or defective (paranoia), a sense now common in modern scientific coinages (parageusia; paralexia).” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/para)
Got it? For something to be “paranormal” it is something to one side of the “normal.” In short, spooky stuff.
I’m familiar with spooky stuff. I’ve lived in a couple of houses where strange stuff had gone on, including a dormitory in which I saw what appeared to be the corner of a chenille bathrobe disappearing down a side hall. It was so real I thought it was one of my friends. When I knocked on her door, nothing happened! No one was home.
Most recently, my grandsons, step-daughter, her husband, and I went on a ghost tour of Breckinridge, Colorado. My grandsons like to think they’re the Ghost Hunters and happily grabbed up an EMF detector when we were given the chance to do a “ghost hunt” in one of the purportedly haunted houses.
While we were listening to the guide describe the phenomena in the building, I found myself standing at the back of the group. The hallway was behind me. Beyond that was the dining room. To my right was the front door and to my left was a hall at the end of which was the kitchen. It was dark, which is kind of creepy, and I decided that I was going to listen to the guide with one ear and stay alert with the other in case something decided to pop up behind me.
A few seconds into the talk, I heard what I can only describe as a footstep coming from the floor above. Seriously, it was a “heel-toe” sound. I thought, “Weird.” Then I heard it again. It was followed by the sounds of someone moving pans in the kitchen. It was as if someone was getting ready to cook. Again, “Weird.”
Then the guide turned us loose. My youngest grandson told me that he was cold. Sometimes feeling cold can mean a ghostly presence. Sometimes it can mean… well, you’re cold. So, I put an arm around him and pulled him close, saying that he was safe with me and that he’d be all right.
When my stepdaughter suggested we check out the bedroom, I gamely went with my family. The boys were checking everything on the EMF meter (the got nothing). Then I decided to be the friendly human to a (hopefully) friendly ghost: “Hi, we’re just here to say hello. You have a lovely room. I’d like to take a picture of it you don’t mind.”
“Thanks,” my stepdaughter said after I was finished. “I’m glad you said that. I wanted to do it but didn’t want to feel like a jerk.”
You gotta love honesty.
We moved back to the parlor, where I decided to take a few more photos.
That’s where something happened that I never had experienced before.
You know how when you take a flash photo in a dark space and your camera phone flashes for a few beats for the photo is taken? Well, as this was happening, I saw this ball of light fly across the room, make a left-hand turn, fly right in front of my camera, and disappear out of frame.
I thought, “What the…?”
When I looked at the photo I didn’t see anything. At first.
My stepdaughter’s husband then proceeded to tease the heck out of me.
When I examined the photo later and saw this:
Look to the left side of the page. The kid in the black hoodie is my youngest grandson (who by the way was the kid who felt cold). Do you see that grey, fuzzy ball by his legs?
Now… we could say this is a bug or a flare or whatever and debunk it. I would love to do that because I’m not a big fan of “orbs.” In fact, I always thought the idea was a lot of nonsense.
Maybe I don’t think that so much anymore.
Anyway, I found the guide and told him about my experiences. He replied the ball might be something. Was it dense? Was it greyish rather than bright white?
When I mentioned the footsteps, he said the people often hear footsteps in the attic (that’s right there was no second floor, but there was an attic). As for the kitchen, he confirmed that had activity, too.
In the end, who knows what all that was?
I like having a healthy skepticism. I certainly don’t go looking for this stuff, aside from the occasional ghost tour with my family. And yet… I also think that maybe there’s more out there than meets the eye.
Besides, all you have to do is mention spooky sounds in an old building and people step up. The other night, my Bible study group got into it when I made an off-hand comment about the noises in our church. They told me they got creeped out when they are alone in the church after dark. One of them said, “I hear people walking around and stuff.” Someone else said she locked herself in the office when she had to be in there alone.
Let’s be honest, it’s a big, old building with an ancient heating system (radiators and a boiler). Having worked in five other churches, I know these old structures creak and groan. So, whenever I’m alone I just say, “that’s the heating system, la-la-la-la” and try to ignore it. As long as nothing walks around the corner, I’m good.
Given all my life experiences (or is that afterlife experiences?) with the paranormal, is it any wonder that the unusual stuff shows up in the Saint Maggie series?
And I’ll be talking about that tomorrow!
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder