Ghost stories and spirit forces
Long after the sun dips below the horizon, and after everyone in the house has gone to bed, a lonely and quiet feeling often comes over a restless sleeper. Old houses creak and billow as if they are alive and breathing, and strange noises trigger dark images in fearful minds. When all the lights are out, and we are alone in the middle of the night, this is the Midnight Hour, the time each of us has suffered through, the time we are left alone to face our darkest fears.For each of us, it is different. Some, when left alone, picture twisted and violent men snooping the perimeter of their room; psychopaths who are only waiting for the right moment to break open the door and attack with ax or gun. For others, the fears are more abstract: fear of death, fear of no afterlife, fear of an eternity in hell, fear that we are alone in this universe, or fear that life itself will churn on like the agitations of a bad dream, with no reward or meaning, no love or substance, until the body finally capitulates and deteriorates underground.And then there are some perhaps many who have experienced things they cannot explain; supernatural encounters, strange shadows moving through the night; images of spirits disjointed from their bodies, furniture moving inexplicably, and extremely intense feelings of a nearby body when no body is visibly there.In old-time Ireland these people were once said to have “The Sight” the ability or awareness to see or feel the presence of spirits in the air. Some seem to have it, others don’t. And those that do nearly always have a difficult time convincing others that what they experienced was true, that it really happened, and although they cannot explain it themselves, they know for certain it was no dream, no fantasy, no hallucinatory episode or psychological breach: these are things that happened that no physics or natural law can explain.Like many children I had an active imagination, no matter whether it was day or night. I saw things that were not there, and I felt the presence of evil lurking around dark corners, down in our basement, beyond the glass of windows, or hovering in the dark pockets of our old house. The interior of our house was lined with old barn wood siding my father had pulled from an 19th Century cabin, and I would see faces moving in the wood, sometimes eyes would come alive and fix their stare upon me. As I grew older these visions went away, I had them less and less, and if they began to happen I would ignore them close my eyes or look away and cling fast to reason and logic.But certain things happened which I could not deny. Sitting down to study once, for example, I had a strange experience. I was working on one of my very first homework assignments, in the third or fourth grade, and my parents had gotten up, turned off the TV, and left me alone in the living room. Suddenly I was filled with fear the sense there was something in the room with me. This went on for a few minutes until suddenly, inexplicably, the lampshade at my table began to shake very, very quickly. At first my young mind thought it was an earthquake, but I looked at a nearby plant and the plant was not shaking. Nothing in the room was moving but the lampshade. Still young, I ran out of the room to the kitchen, where my parents were, and told them nothing.Years later, while in high school, the furniture in our living room was in exactly the same set-up for the first time since the original incident. I sat down to study and my mother got up and left the room. Suddenly the fear came over me again. This time, being older, I waited. I remembered what had happened last time and I knew, without a doubt, that my lampshade would begin to shake. I waited again. I looked at all the doors and windows to be sure they were closed. My heart was pounding. The feeling that a presence was there was overwhelming, and I was filled with tremendous fear, but I held on to my seat and waited.And then, just as it had the first time, the lampshade began to shake. It moved so fast it was like a blur, faster than any human hand could move it. I looked around again to be sure my eyes were working properly, and then I looked at the lampshade again. I could feel there was a presence immediately in front of me, within two feet of my face. I stared at the empty space where I felt the presence and then I heard myself talking.”I know you’re there,” I said.And the lampshade came to a perfect, absolute standstill.I waited another moment, dumbfounded, half believing I would see a ghost appear before my eyes. After a moment there was a long, quiet, sucking noise, like the sound of a great wind blowing from far away. The wind moved through the room, into the fireplace and up the chimney, and then it was gone, I was left alone, and I felt no presence at all in the room after that.The Angel roomMake of my story what you will I have no more insight into these things than the average person. And as a journalist, I remain skeptical. But I know I’m not the only one to experience this kind of thing. For some time now I’ve been waiting for Halloween to come around so that I could justify a ghost story, so that I could find some others who have had experiences like these and I didn’t need to go far.Down to Edwards, in fact, to the old Calhoun ranch, where the Calhoun family has been since they came to Edwards to homestead in 1896. A friend of mine, Lynne Krnacick, was boarding up at the ranch a few years ago, staying in the old log cabin the Calhoun’s had built when they first came to the valley.For a time in the 1990s, Buddy Calhoun ran the old house as a bed and breakfast. They eventually gave that up, but they have guests and boarders staying there most of the time. Lynne had just come back from a vacation and went to bed late at night. Usually she has her dog, Chile, staying with her in the room, but Chile was still with friends, and Lynne was alone in the room.That’s when Lynne had the feeling that someone was in the room. It was so strong, she said, that she was seized with fear and unable to move, to turn over and look toward the door where she felt it coming from. Eventually she did, and she saw a woman standing in the doorway, wearing a white dress and her hair pulled back. Lynne’s heart was pounding, she said, but she felt the woman was benevolent. The woman came closer, sat on the end of Lynne’s bed, and held on to her hand, staring deep into her eyes.When she described the experience to Buddy Calhoun, he didn’t seem surprised. That’s the old ghost, he told her, that many people have seen or felt. Calhoun thinks it’s the ghost of his grandmother, a gal everyone used to call “Gong.””I don’t think she’s an evil spirit,” Lynne said. “She tucks people in, she probably took care of people all her life and now she wants to keep doing the same thing.”Calhoun said his wife invited a clairvoyant to the homestead at one point, and the woman told him that the ghost was benevolent and happy.”We had a psychic here and she said she saw the ghost,” Calhoun said. “She said that it was very happy because there were children around, and baking in the kitchen, cookies being made. It’s a benevolent ghost.”It wouldn’t be the first time Calhoun had experienced or heard of a benevolent supernatural force in the old homesteader cabin. Wracked with illness at the age of five, Calhoun was laid up in an upstairs room. Sick and delirious, with a temperature of 105 degrees, Calhoun saw two angelic faces floating above him in the room.”I can remember seeing two glowing faces above me,” he said. “And I kept saying to my mom, ‘Mom, can you see the angels? Can you see the angels?’ And she thought I was checking out. She thought I had polio.”His mother took him down to Pueblo, where doctors were treating children for polio. The next morning, however, Calhoun woke up completely cured, not ill at all, even though all signs pointed toward him having polio.”So I’ve always thought the angels had something to do with that,” he said.And so they named that room The Angel Room, and ever since then it has been a place of strange occurrences.The Calhoun’s never told their guests there was a ghost or angels in their house while they were running a bed and breakfast there, but several people reported seeing things anyhow.According to Calhoun, one of the more chilling stories unfolded like this: One morning, as Buddy’s ex-wife was serving breakfast, a child came down from upstairs and asked a question.”Who was the old lady who tucked me in last night?” he said.His mother replied that, of course, she had.”No, after you,” he said. “There was an old lady who came and tucked me in. Who was that?”But there were no old ladies staying in the house. Unless, of course, you count the ghost of Buddy Calhoun’s grandmother.The spiritual battleThere are still people living in the Angel Room at the Calhoun homestead. Right now it happens to be a man named Tom Gaston, who has lived in the valley off and on since the 1970s.Gaston moved into the Angel Room in April, and said he knew there was some kind of presence in the room.But what he felt, he said, was not a benevolent, happy ghost. The instant he came into the room he said he felt a strong demonic presence.For Gaston, this was not the first time he had encountered demonic beings or spirits. Many years ago he felt tremendous, oppressing evil around him, and through prayer he said he was able to set himself free of those oppressing feelings.When he moved into the Angel room he said he began to pray.”When I started the prayer the oppressive, demonic force became extremely intense there’s no way you can describe it to someone who hasn’t been through it,” he said. “I felt the Holy Spirit was working through me.”Since then, he said, he hasn’t felt any supernatural forces in his room.This kind of thing comes as no surprise to Bob Brandon of the Vail Bible Church, who has studied the Devil and demons for 12 years at a Dallas-based seminary. His doctoral thesis on the Devil is being considered for publication.Brandon points to many passages in the Bible that discuss spirits, demons, demoniac possession and angels, and he says it is these passages that helped him to understand the many encounters he’s had with the supernatural.His first, he said, came in college on the night he became a Christian.”I was in bed at nine, ten at night. And I realized that there was a demon, there was this thing staring at me and at this point I don’t even believe in that,” he said. “But I can’t deny what’s going on. And I realized that this wasn’t going to go away. It was going to get worse until I did something about it. And it dawned on me that there must be God. And there was a choice.”Brandon said that night was the first night he believed in the Lord, and that the instant he took that truth into his heart, the demon disappeared.From there he began to study the Bible, learning what he could about evil spirits. There are many passages, he pointed out, that guide people on what to do and how to deal with these kinds of encounters.He agrees that there are such things as angels but that there are good angels and bad angels, those who wish to steal your soul and those that wish to deliver your soul to the Lord. In Brandon’s view, there is a great spiritual battle being waged over human souls, and prayer is the way for a human soul to protect itself from the evil supernatural forces in the world.”These creatures are very susceptible to prayer,” he said. “They don’t like it, and we pray all the time over people who are haunted by demons.”The most common miracle performed by Jesus, he says, was exorcising demons from possessed people.There is no way to tell, says Brandon, what is angel and what is demon. As for the Calhoun ghost, he says it’s possible for a demonic presence to show itself as a kind and loving soul but he agrees that it’s possible that good angels, like the ones Buddy Calhoun saw, may be present at the household as well.Brandon believes that, as children, we are more perceptive of what is happening in the spiritual world. As we grow older we are taught to pay more attention to the tangible world, and to ignore the signs and signals we see from the spiritual world. But if we open our minds and look, he says, we can see signs from heaven above and messengers from the Devil below.As for my experience with the lampshade, I don’t know what it was, whether it was something my mind created or something created by spiritual forces, or whether God and Heaven and Hell played a part or not. I do know that I have many more stories like it, involving much stranger occurrences and moments more terrifying than anything else I’ve experienced, and I do know there are many people like me out there with similar stories.As a child these moments used to scare me terribly, but now I have a kind of enjoyment of them, like something strange and wonderful is happening, and I feel a bit of pity for those who can’t join in on the game.So as you celebrate Halloween this weekend, think of the strange things that have happened to you and tell us about them. Send me a letter, or an email, or give me a call because there’s nothing more entertaining over Halloween than scaring yourself silly – and I’d love to take part. VTCall Tom Boyd at (970) 390-1585, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send snail mail to PO Box 6200, Vail, CO 81657.
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In Eagle County, the most commonly reported dead bird has been the Wilson’s warbler, which is yellow. Dead yellow-rumped warblers have also been a common sight.