September 12, 2014

The “Visitor”

Category: News — Ira @ 6:00 pm


If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking,
damages his personality, makes him landlord to a ghost.

—Lloyd C. Douglas

It was kind of odd, the thing that came at me just a few weeks back. Over Labor Day weekend, was when it happened. And it was a little unsettling. I’m not sure where to go with it, so I guess I’ll just tell the story.

I live in a fairly old house. Well, not old, as they think old in Europe, or anything. Near as I can tell, my house was built in the 1920s, sometime. It’s made of brick. Two full stories. A full basement. And a full attic. Lots of old wood, to creak and groan around at night in the wind. I’ve lived all alone, too, here in the old house. Tenants came and went, over the years, and most of them were a good riddance when they left. This time, before the current tenant came wandering along, I had lived alone for two-plus years. It never bothered me. Actually, I liked the solitude. No fuss or hassles. No one around, to worry about. No one around but me. But I sure did miss that rent money.

The tenant got here last year, in the spring. The man has been real good for my place. And totally fine, to have around. He doesn’t bother me. We talk, when we see each other. Now and then, we’ll sit out on the front porch, outside his door, and drink a beer or something I mixed up. He knows the territory, he’s been around. If I need a contact of some kind, he usually knows who to talk to. He’s not religious, that I know of. We’ve chatted, now and then, about it. He gave me his sympathies, back when Mom passed away last spring. And told me in detail of how his own Mom had passed. I never told him I write. As far as I know, he still has no idea I ever wrote a book. He never even knew I was an attorney, until I mentioned it offhand, a few weeks back. He about had a fit. I figure when and if he ever finds out about the book, he’ll probably have another fit. And I’ll give him a copy. That day might come, or it might not. So far, it hasn’t.

What I’m saying is, the man is a solid, rational man, who’s been around the block a few times. Not given to telling wild tales. But it was kind of strange, back in July, when I got back from my road trip. I had been gone for ten days. No worries, though, about things at home. I just tell the tenant the dates I’ll be gone. He gathers my mail for me, and keeps an eye on the place. I feel very good about having someone like that around when I’m gone.

When I got back that Saturday afternoon, he was around. He brought my bag of mail to the door, and knocked. I opened it, and we stood there and talked. Thanks, I said, taking the mail. “No problem,” he said. Then: “Man, I’m glad to see you back. This old house makes some very strange noises at night.” I’m sure it does, I said. It’s old, and creaks and groans some. But at least the furnace is turned off, downstairs. It doesn’t clank and rattle, at least not during the summer. “It makes some very strange noises,” he said again. But he didn’t seem all that perturbed about anything. And we left it at that, as far as any strange noises the house makes. But I thought about it later, what he had said. It was just an odd comment, I thought.

Labor Day Saturday, early afternoon. I was fixing to leave to run some errands, see some friends. A beautiful sunny day. The tenant had the big garage door open, his car parked outside, the front wheels up on ramps. He’s always tinkering with that thing. I ambled out to chat a bit. He told me what he was doing, some little repair. He was sipping a cold beer, and offered me a can. Nah, thanks, I’m driving here, shortly, I said. He stood there and took another sip. Then he looked at me very strangely, kind of sideways. And then he spoke.

“Have you ever considered the fact that your house might be haunted?” He asked. A question I sure wasn’t expecting. And as I like to say now and then. Well, what do you do with that? He kept looking at me, half sheepishly. And then he got to telling me a few stories.

“You know,” he said. “I’ve never been one to pay much attention to such stuff. But I’m telling you, there is something in your house. I’ve heard it walking, clear as a bell, when no one else was around. Usually of a morning, after you leave for work. The steps are as heavy as yours, so I figure it has to be a man about your size.”

Ah, are you sure? I was a little dubious. I’ve never felt anything like that, except once. I can tell you a pretty freaky story. But I’ve never sensed any presence around me downstairs, ever. And I’m up late, often, on my computer. You know that, you probably hear me when I go to bed. Are you sure it’s not the cleaning lady, of a morning like that? She comes around once a month, and she has a key to get in.

He shook his head. Dismissively. “No, it’s not her. I hear you walking down there all the time. And I know what footsteps sound like. I know when I hear them. And it’s someone as heavy as you. And I haven’t heard it that often. Maybe ten, a dozen times. But the one morning, it was so clear that I thought it must be you. I actually walked around and looked out all the windows, to make sure your truck wasn’t parked where it usually isn’t. It wasn’t. You were gone. Those footsteps down there were as clear as yours ever are.”

And we talked about it. Strangely, there was one emotion that didn’t come to me. And that was fear. I felt none. This was my home. I won’t be afraid in my own home. The tenant told me he had felt a presence of some kind, upstairs, on different occasions. And once or twice, in his little living room, he caught movement out of the edge of his eye, as if someone were there. I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. The tenant is a calm and steady man, from all I’ve ever seen of him. Not given to hallucinations, he has no habit of excessive drinking that I ever saw, anyway. I drink way more than he does.

I’ve never felt any presence like that, I told him. Never. Never felt any malevolence from anything in that house. But I’ll tell you a little story. I’ve ever only told one person before. A thing that happened about three years ago. He looked at me, very interested. And I told him. I got home from work one day. Normal day. And I noticed the round wall clock, up behind the TV. It was stopped. I forget the exact minute, but sometime earlier that day. No big deal, I figured. The battery had just died. I’d just change it. The clock is hard to get to, up in that corner. I struggled around and finally lifted it from the nail it hung on.

It was a clock Dad had given me, years before. A “bird” clock. Every hour had a picture of a different bird. And if you put two batteries in the lower slot, you’d hear that bird singing or chirping on the hour. I never was interested in hearing those birds. So I never put any batteries in the bottom slot. The clock was just a clock, with a single battery in the top slot, to make it run.

I looked at the clock in my hands. Turned to the back, to remove the battery. And a chill shot through me. The battery had been removed from the top slot, and inserted into the bottom slot, where it took two, to make the birds sing. The battery had been removed from where it was that morning.

That freaked me out pretty bad, I told the tenant. I could find nothing else out of place, in all the house. I mean, I looked. I had stuff lying around, stuff you could easily pick up. Everything was exactly as I’d left it that morning, except for the battery in that clock. And for some reason, I thought of a ghost, a spirit, right then. Something had done that. I was pretty freaked out, at that moment. Oh, yes, I was. And I was a little jumpy for the next week or so. And I wrote a little note, and stuck it on the clock. Whoever you are, whatever you are, stop it. I will come after you if you don’t.

The tenant looked all wise when I finished. “It hasn’t happened often, that I heard something,” he said. “But believe me, I heard it.” I do believe you, I said. And he told me more. He woke up in the middle of the night, once. His bedroom door was cracked open, about a foot. “And as sure as I’m standing here talking to you, I could feel someone behind that door, looking at me,” he said. “I got up with a flashlight and walked over and opened it. Nothing was there. Do you know what the history of your house is? Did anyone ever die in there, in a bad way?”

I don’t know, I said. I know a previous tenant tried to overdose once, with pills, in my bedroom. He didn’t get it done, though.

“Well, it couldn’t be him, then,” the tenant actually chuckled. “If he didn’t get it done, it couldn’t be him.” I agreed. It’s usually a suicide when the spirits stay. Or often, anyway. I don’t know anything about the history of my house. I left then, to see my friends, and run my errands. The tenant was working away, at his car.

I got back around five or so. And I had it on my mind, what he’d told me. I wanted to talk to him some more about it. So I texted him. You got a minute? He came right down, handed me a cold beer, and we sat out on the front porch and talked.

I asked him a lot of specific questions, about what he had heard. And he was adamant. Well, I said. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll mention it to my pastor. See what he thinks about it. Maybe I can have him come over and put that spirit to rest. The tenant looked at me. “I have no problem with that, if he knows what he’s doing,” he said. Oh, I trust my pastor, I said. If he tells me he can do it, he can do it. We sat there and sipped our beers, and got to talking about a lot of other things.

I believe places can be haunted. I totally do. I believe there are ghosts, and such things as spirits, mostly unseen and unheard. I don’t know how you can be a Christian, and not believe in them. They are there, in a spiritual world. Thing is, all my life, I have never, never “tempted the spirits.” I’ve never dabbled in anything even remotely, that would make such entities show up. I’ve never visited a fortune teller, never consulted a medium. I would never play with any Ouija Board. That kind of stuff is not for me. I would never walk into a “haunted house’ at night to see what I can see. I just don’t want to go there, I never have. It’s best to leave alone what you don’t understand. That’s how I’ve always felt, what I’ve always believed.

And now, here’s my tenant, a totally rational man, telling me he’s hearing things in my house. Below him, right where I live. I don’t know. I can’t help but believe him. Or at least I believe he’s telling me what he believes he heard. This is an older house. There are all kinds of pipes running through it. Hot water, cold water. And those pipes make all kinds of noises, when they contract and expand. Rational thought, to me, goes like this. I take a shower, every morning. And then I leave. Who knows, what kinds of noises the water pipes make, after all that hot water just flowed through them? Not saying it’s one way or the other. Just saying, that’s where my mind goes, trying to rationalize what the tenant’s telling me. But on the other hand, he’s telling me he heard those footsteps only ten to a dozen times, in the year and a half he’s lived here. It’s all kind of weird.

Other than that freaky clock battery incident, I have never, never felt any presence down here in my part of the house but my own. Never. I’ve never sensed anything. Never seen any “movement” out of the corner of my eye. And I’ve never been afraid. This is my home. This is where I live. You can’t live in fear in your own home.

The next morning, after church, I didn’t get a chance to chat with Pastor Mark. I had to leave a few minutes early, for a cookout more than an hour away. The next day, Labor Day, I was just lounging around that afternoon. And I decided I’d call him. So I did. He didn’t act all that surprised to hear from me, until I hemmed around a bit. Do you believe a house can be haunted? I asked.

“Yes, I believe that,” he answered. “Why do you ask?” Well, I’d come this far. So I plunged right on in. The tenant swears my house is haunted, I told him. A slight pause. He was still on the line. At least he hadn’t hung up on me. Or called me crazy.

“Well, tell me about it,” he said. And I did. Told him all the stuff the tenant had told me. How he had clearly heard footsteps, right down here where I live. Right here, in my house, when no one’s home.

I give the man a lot of credit. How many pastors get a call like that, from anyone attending their church? My house might be haunted. Pastor Mark didn’t blink an eye. He engaged. First, of course, he went through all the rational things. Old house, creaking timbers, creaking floors, thumping pipes. Things that go “bump” in the night. Combine all that with the human imagination, and it’s very real, what you hear. Yeah, yeah, I said. That’s what I told the tenant. I’ve never sensed any presence here, except once. And I told him about the clock battery. He absorbed that. Someone snuck into your house and did that. He didn’t say it. But I could hear him thinking it.

It all doesn’t matter, I guess, I said. I feel no fear. I’ve never felt any fear, living here. But I’m intrigued by what the tenant’s telling me. He’s a rational man. And he’s not leaving, or anything. But I believe him, when he tells me what he heard.

And Pastor Mark told me. There has to be a portal, somewhere, for a spirit to enter and settle. He took the worst case scenario. “Let’s say there was a mass murderer, down there in the basement. And let’s say he slit a whole bunch of victims’ throats, then committed suicide. Right down there, in your basement. Yes, I could see where evil spirits would enter and stay, and haunt your house. But they have no authority, to physically hurt you. They don’t.”

There’s no record of any such thing in my basement, that I’m aware of, I told him.

“That’s the most extreme example,” he said. “There are lesser ways, lesser portals, for a spirit to enter.” And he mentioned an example. I don’t have a problem with that particular thing, I said.

And then I thought about it, and I asked my pastor. Could that portal be alcohol? I drink. More than I should. (I’m fixing to do something about that real soon, now.) Which he already knew. Because I told him. And now I was asking. Could that be it?

He didn’t hesitate. “No,” he said. “That’s a chemical thing, alcohol. That in and of itself will never open your house to any spirit. What you do when you’re under the influence might. But not the alcohol alone. It’s a chemical thing, by itself.”

We chatted for a few more minutes, then wrapped it up. “It could be something natural, like imagination combined with the house creaking. It could be a spirit, or it could just be a mystery,” he said. “We live free in Christ. And in the end, if you want, we can walk through the house and rebuke whatever it is that’s in your home. In the name of Jesus. I’ll be glad to do it. That is your home. You own it. And you can tell anything that shouldn’t be there to leave, because Jesus is Lord over all.”

His words were calming. But still, I wasn’t quite ready to go that far, right now. Look, I told him. I’m leaving soon for a week. The tenant doesn’t want a lot of hassle. So let’s leave it as it is, for right now. I’ve never felt anything, any malevolent force in my home, except maybe for that clock. And the tenant doesn’t seem all that eager, to get anyone else involved. I’m leaving for a week, for the beach. Let’s just wait until I get back, and we’ll go from there. If the tenant keeps hearing things, I’ll get back to you, and we’ll do the walk-through. “Certainly, that’s no problem,” he said. And that’s how we left it.

And that’s where it all is right now. Just resting. Waiting.

And yes, that beautiful magical time is here again. Beach Week. We head out tomorrow, for a full week of relaxation and no drama. And I am beyond ready for it. This has been a tough, tough year. In more ways than one. It’s been a while, since I’ve seen one like it. There have been hard things, there have been sad things, and real joy has been sparse. I have never claimed more than a mustard seed of faith. This year, sometimes, even that tiny little seed seemed to be slipping away. But I grasped it, held on to it, because there was nothing else to do. God is always there, even when He doesn’t seem to be. I know that, and I hold on.

I am so, so tired. Weary, right down to my bones. And I am ready to breathe again the salt air of the sea, to absorb the sound of those crashing, calming waves. Ready to relax and let it all sink in. Ready to rest my heart and cleanse my soul.



  1. Yikes. Most people have a tale or two about something strange happening in their house. I am sure it also happens to some of your readers, just nobody wants to talk about it to others. It is a regular thing in most houses. I live in a 114 year old house and it would be naive of me to think nobody had ever passed here. Ps. On your trip to Florida, watch out for fuzzy caterpillars with a Mohawk because they are highly poisoness even to touch the fir. Have a nice relaxing vacation.

    Comment by Carol Ellmore — September 12, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

  2. Ira, is this the beginning of becoming a “fiction author”? (HA!HA!) My wife reads fiction Christian books, me, the little I do read,I like True stories, that is what drew me to your book. Make it a Great week at the beach.

    Comment by Warren — September 12, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

  3. We used to live in an old house, and I could share some stories that still make my skin crawl. I totally believe the tenant heard something.

    Keep us posted.

    Comment by Carrie — September 12, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

  4. Kind of interesting, Ira. I’m reading your blog while sitting in a restaurant where the menus have the signs of the the Zodiac. “What Zodiac animal are you on the Chinese Zodiac Calendar? 1. Find your birth year… etc”
    I believe that stuff could be a portal opener.

    BTW: If you trace your Yoder roots back far enough, there are five Yoders back in the 1600’s named Casper. That’s kind of haunting.

    Comment by John Schmid — September 12, 2014 @ 8:20 pm

  5. Dude, Halloween isn’t ’till next month. HA! But, no one would have taken you seriously if you’d posted then. Of course, you have spooks in your house. You’re an interesting guy. Lots of people like you. Maybe even some dead. You’re just a magnet to alot of free spirits. It’s cool. They’re harmless. Just lonely and mischievous. ;)

    Comment by Lisa DeYoung — September 12, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

  6. Interesting post. Have your pastor walk through your house. I have heard of spirits who are earth bound and they need to be released to go on to the next world. Enjoy your time at the beach and think about your “ghost” when you return. Take care. :-)

    Comment by Rosanna F. — September 12, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

  7. Good blog. Lol-ing at “Casper”
    Go through with your pastor. I think blessing a house under even the best of circumstances is such a neat thing to do. Eradicate the spirit, and then bless it!
    We went to a house blessing once, for a house Kent had helped build for neighbors of ours, and it warmed my heart. I don’t know if it’s a theologically sound thing to do or not…it’s too late an hour for me to analyze.
    (Praying for the mustard seed to sprout and flourish.)

    Comment by Rhonda — September 12, 2014 @ 10:25 pm

  8. Ask your niece Ida Mae Gascho about Pathway Publishers’ ghosts, in the late 1980’s.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — September 12, 2014 @ 10:51 pm

  9. You are on the right track there Ira. I’m real proud of you for not allowing fear in.

    Comment by RAM — September 13, 2014 @ 3:41 am

  10. I think it is there too. If it comes again I would have the walk through. We live in an old house and some things have happened but not that dramatic. I too wish for you a good rest and much relaxation. linda

    Comment by Linda Ault — September 13, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

  11. Interesting as always, Ira. I don’t know what I think, having never experienced anything as weird as the goings-on at your house. I’m looking forward to finding out what, if anything, happens next. Meanwhile, enjoy Beach Week.

    Comment by cynthia r chase — September 13, 2014 @ 7:06 pm

  12. I could not get this note to go last night, so trying today. I may not have been the only one.

    I agree with Rhonda. When blessing the house in the name of Jesus, my friends also bless every door and window, applying a dab of olive oil. Dedicate it and your land to God and his purposes. May as well bless yourself while you’re at it!

    Ask around and you will hear stories of miracles that occurred after a blessing, but only to the part that was blessed! Be sure to bless your children, even before they are conceived. And your wife…, even though she may not be yours yet! I know people who pray for their infants future mate! …that they would have a Godly/ kind spouse, that their home would be harmonious, a true retreat for them, with provision, healthy/ loving children, etc.

    Thank you for your transparency, and allowing us to connect with you. You are truthful and trusting. Both are admirable qualities.

    Comment by Kathy Dean — September 14, 2014 @ 12:30 am

  13. When hearing or reading about mysterious happenings it just reinforces my belief that we humans are separated from other worlds by a thin veil,limited by our finite human senses and emotions.It was scary when I was younger,now not so much for my belief and spiritual connection to a higher power assures me that I will be taken care off if anything goes bump in the night.Heavy alcohol use will open doors to the dark side,a feeling of being controlled or influenced by malevolent forces can happen and I speak from personal experience.24 plus years ago after a long period of drinking way more then was good for me I was able with some help to quit the booze and have stayed stopped to this day.While meeting with a Christian therapist .Over the course of a year we would discuss the feelings and happenings and he would remind me of why alcohol is sometimes called spirits.On a lighter note,I have been helping a friend of mine who is neither a church goer or religious.Some years ago this friend was awakened by the shadowy figure of women standing at the foot of the bed.When the figure was asked by my friend if it was the mother,who lived in the house,or whether my friend had passed to the other side the figure shook its head no and disappeared.The next day my friend was a passenger in a van that was involved in a horrible accident.Weeks of hospitalization and surgery followed.Every night this figure was at the bedside and one arm was extended touching my friend .The figure or angel as I call it could only be looked at out of the corner of the the eye,not directly or it would momentarily disappear. This friend of mine is a highly intelligent rational down to earth personality,I find no reason to dought or disbelieve the account of what was seen.

    Comment by lenny — September 14, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

  14. I could tell you stories about spirits in the house I grew up in, about a spirit my daughter saw and heard on more than one occasion the last time we stayed in Lancaster County (in an Old Order Mennonite home), and many, many stories about spirits the people we work with in Mexico see, hear, and even worship. There is superstition (a ridiculous religious mindset); and there is a real spiritual world – the Bible talks a lot about it. A book I’m reading right now has a good story about some appearances, and more about victories over them: Prayers That Outwit the Enemy, by Chuck Pierce; very sensible and very positive.

    Comment by LeRoy — September 15, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  15. I agree with Pastor Mark concerning no spirit having authority over you. When you were born again you became the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not change residences once He’s moved in. The fact that you feel you drink too much alcohol does not mean a portal has been opened up for evil. It means God is still working on you.

    The thing about seeing stuff out of the corner of the eye could be the body’s way of saying it’s time for an eye exam. Or it could be the side effect of a disease or symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal. Peripheral vision leaves much to be desired as far as accuracy. I can’t help but wonder how many of us would consider seeing things from the corner of our eye as being paranormal had we not viewed it on some scary movie or heard it from someone trying to spook us. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in the spirit world, but sometimes it’s the first explanation made for unexplainable occurrences. Doing a little research before coming to a conclusion may be more helpful.

    Yes, I completely believe in the spirit world. I’ve never dabbled in any of it though. I was given the opportunity to have a woman read cards over me but I said no. At first it sounded appealing. “Oh boy! I get to see into my future.” Translated as, “Oh boy! I get to play God.” Didn’t Eve say something like that? Look where it got her. The Bible makes it clear that God abhors witchcraft and all that business. Saul learned this lesson when he consulted a medium to call Samuel up from the other world because God was not communicating with him. It offended God in a big way. And look at those poor souls from the New Testament riddled with demons…until Jesus came to town that is. Oh yeah, spirits abound.

    “But I grasped it, held onto it…” “…and I hold on.” You, Ira, my friend have got this all wrong. You are not holding onto anything nor are you grasping anything. You are BEING held.

    Have a wonderful time at the beach. I can’t help recall what one of your readers mentioned last year about your fishing excursion. Something about blood from the fish you catch and how that attracts sharks. Careful. And what exactly does “no drama” mean?

    Comment by Francine — September 17, 2014 @ 11:16 am

  16. For sure there are visitors from another plane, another dimension, whatever. But there is one rule I live by & its always worked for me. Make sure all the closet doors are closed by midnight!

    Comment by G.Charmaine — September 18, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

  17. Love the Douglas quote. It’s so horribly true. In myriad ways.

    At a thrift store in Ephrata the other week, the owner was walking through the store praying against a spirit of darkness. She’d received a letter from a friend whose son had sensed it when there. She herself had felt like something was watching her and the sales in her store were down also. She asked me to pray with her, so we stood together there and prayed against satan and claimed Jesus’ name and power.

    There are various ways spirits of darkness enter our lives that don’t involve dabbling in the occult.

    Comment by Ava — September 18, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

  18. I’m kinda late with this, but the main thing with Ira’s writings are his bluntness and honesty. In today’s world of embellishments, hypocrisy and outright lies, his blog comes across as legit. Maybe a few months roll by until I think of logging on, but it is always worthwhile.

    As for evil spirits, yeah they are real…… Eph.6.10-18 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..”

    To all true believers, my simple advice is to read the Bible aloud daily in a systematic way. And preferably the old English AV edition. And if you don’t want to hear yourself get the Alexander Scourby CDs. They’re classics. Ten to twenty minutes a day as one finds time at morning or evening, and close out the little session by praying aloud to our Sovereign God, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    The devils and demons are very afraid of the spoken Word of God. More so than any of us can imagine.

    Comment by e.s.gingerich — September 30, 2014 @ 6:23 pm

  19. Hi, Ira,

    I found this article that shares a different perspective on the subject:

    By the way, I agree that bitterness sometimes needs readdressing. It can be like the top of a refrigerator; you dust it off and think that it will remain clean. Then, you reach up a month later and find more. Who put THAT there? God is good to gently point out when the time has come to dust.

    Comment by A Christian — October 10, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  20. Yes good. We listened to our spiritual elders pray for the house, earth below, ground itself, air above, NSEW, corners of property. Thus we do the same.

    Comment by Sho — November 29, 2018 @ 9:20 pm

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