I usually don't have much on my mind. Sometimes I wonder if I'll run out of treats or if anyone can smell the tipple on my breath, but I can say with certainty that I have never spotted a kid with a sheet over his head and thought to myself, "Hmm, did God make ghosts?"
I mean, has that question ever occurred to you? Of all the strange things that enter your brain on sleepless nights or when you're zoning in the shower, have you wondered that?
Not me. At least not until last week when I was clicking through websites while watching TV. Though my attention was torn, I couldn't miss the purple flashing homepage of Appalachian GhostWalks.
Appalachia? Ghosts? In October?
Right away, I knew this little company was blog-worthy, so I picked up the phone and called its owner Stacey Allen McGee. Though I reached him at 9:00 pm during his busiest season, Stacey sounded like he'd been waiting to hear from me. He gave me an excited greeting and told me, right off, that his ghost tours are like none other in the world.
To illustrate his point, he tossed out a question--"What is faith?"
I hesitated, hoping that he'd answer for me, and he did. "The evidence of things not seen," he said.
I didn't follow, so Stacey continued. "Every night, when we take people out on these tours, we hope to introduce them to the kingdom of Heaven."
With that, he paused. He must have known that I'd need a second to process, and he was right. I mean, I knew the company took things-that-go-bump-in-the-night seriously. Right on its website, it said that its tours result from "years of professional, experienced scientific investigation," but I didn't expect this. Scientific investigation and theistic questions? Really?
Stacey went on to explain that one of the oldest ghost stories in the world is in the Bible. He referenced the Old Testament's King Saul, whose spirit had a two way conversation Samuel. He talked about Lazarus, who according to the Gospel of John, was raised from the dead by Jesus. Biblical scripture, Stacey said, shows that "when the body stops working, it's not the end of you."
He believes this as a Christian, and he tries to prove it as an afterlife researcher. Stacey's faith has led him to spend nineteen years pursuing evidence of the hereafter. He has taken photos and videos. He has conducted electro-magnetic research. He says that he has stacks of unusual images. They can only be explained through belief in God or belief in the paranormal...or both.
Talking to Stacey, this starts to make an unusual kind of sense. If Christianity holds that there is an afterlife and ghost hunters do too, maybe there is a way for the two to coincide.
At the very least, Stacey's beliefs have produced one of the region's most interesting tours. Before placing a house on his walks, Stacey conducts exhaustive paranormal and historic research. He wants to insure that his guests have the most authentic, informed experience possible, and it pays off. Everyone learns about local history and lore, and many people claim to have otherworldly experiences while they're on his tours.
Could there be a better time to find out for yourself?
As part of your Halloween countdown, maybe you should take an Appalachian GhostWalk. They're offered across eastern Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Prices start at $13 per person and same-day reservations are welcome. Stacey says the tours are appropriate for children as young as five, but a 97 year old woman once took two tours back-to-back because she had such a great time. Apparently, they're fun for all ages.
If you go, by all means drop a line here. If you don't, I'd still love to hear about your spine-tingling experiences. Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you think signs of the afterlife can be spotted in our hills and hollers? And if ghosts do exist, did God, in fact, make them?