Elated to be returning to my alma mater for two weeks this fall!
If you know me half-well, you might wonder if I’m headed to the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee to see my two daughters who are presently students there.
Or you might be wondering if I’m returning to spend more time playing Sewanee’s 54-bell carillon, a one-of-a-kind instrument I performed on from time to time during my tenure as a graduate student; the tower in which it is housed stands tall in the photo above.
Or you might be wondering if I’ve got some pressing business with the School of Theology–to attend the Daily Office in COTA (Chapel Of The Apostles) or to sit in on some especially riveting lecture or other or to press a former professor or three on some vexing theological question.
Or maybe I want to spend time with my good friends in the classics department.
Or maybe I’ll be stopping by some of the area congregations in which I served as an organist, deacon, or preacher.
Or maybe I just miss the burgers at Shenanigans.
Truth be told, that’s all part of it, sure. No doubt I will be trying to see as many people and enjoy as many meals as I can with them, especially the two favorite people mentioned in the first paragraph–not to mention visiting the tavern a time or two too with the older one since she’s turning twenty-one tomorrow.
But none of this is actually why I’m going. Not technically anyway. Unless, arguably, it all is.
The truth is I’ve been awarded a fellowship to research and otherwise work on a book.
The book’s subject matter is quintessential Sewanee history–albeit with a splash of lore. Or, on second thought, it’s quintessential Sewanee lore with a splash of history. Ghost lore, to be specific; which is indeed a significant part of Sewanee’s history (as is angel lore).
So you know, my fellowship proposal stemmed from a desire that went unfulfilled all my while as a student. For, as a student (who also happened to be a father struggling to make ends meet–and thus all the carillon performing, Latin teaching, and organ accompanying), I never had adequate time to explore all the ghost lore that captivated my imagination while in the old town (by American standards). It simply would have been too difficult to write all those theology and church history papers with ghost stories on my mind. So, while a student, I set the captivation aside, calling it too distracting or whatever, trying to ignore it and hoping it would go away.
But it didn’t.
So now, I’d like to return to Sewanee, I said on my fellowship application, to explore this ghost lore in a focused way. I want to eat meals and drink pints in the tavern with those who have a story to tell–with those who have lived and breathed long enough in the community to have heard a tale or two enough times to have most of the details worked out. I want to climb the stairs in the bell tower again to the carillon cabin–a bell tower with a tale or two of its own–and maybe even play a piece. I might even want to explore one of the graveyards or any other haunt with anyone willing to explore with me–might want to go on a bona fide ghost hunt or two!
And so, yes, technically, I’m returning to Sewanee for none of the reasons listed above. But, on the other hand, it’s kind of for all the reasons above–and many more.
So if you are a Sewaneean with a ghost story to tell and will be around Oct. 26-Nov. 6, please let me know when and where we can meet for a conversation.
And–oh yeah–Halloween, conveniently, falls right in the middle of my time there. I’m hoping to share some of my findings in Hamilton Hall during my stay. Who knows, maybe it will be on Halloween itself–right before a midnight graveyard ghost hunt?