Kathleen Berry always dismissed the notions of ghosts, her belief system relegating such ideas to demonic manifestations.
“I had this duality,” she said. “I knew there was no way anything like that could exist, but if it did, it would be like something from Stephen King. It would be evil.”
As the public relations officer for Washoe Community Education at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, it fell to her to publicize the paranormal classes the school started offering in 2002.
“As a college-educated person, I couldn’t believe in this nonsense,” she said. “I hated promoting it, but it was my job.”
So when she was asked in 2007 to be an impartial observer to a television news crew’s investigation into paranormal activity at the reputedly haunted Goldfield Hotel, she skeptically agreed to go along, expecting to be bored.
However, as night fell at the hotel, so did her assumptions.
“In the first hour, things started happening all around me,” she said. “I knew I was changed.”
From that experience, Berry said, her life shifted.
“I had to reconcile what this all meant,” she said. “In the months that followed, there were times I thought I was losing my mind. I was experiencing things I’d never experienced before.”
Most pointedly, she had to re-evaluate her notions of deity.
“I thought I loved God and felt close to him,” she said. “But my notions of heaven and hell had come from a fear-based theology.”
She has now taught her own paranormal classes and shares her beliefs on ghosts and God in seminars. She lays out her transformation in her memoir, “A Reluctant Spirit: A True Tale of God, Ghosts and a Skeptical Christian.”
The 1979 Carson High School graduate will return to her hometown to discuss the book in her “Real Life Ghost Stories” presentation at 7 p.m. Wednesday at A to Zen.
While she educates participants about ghostly encounters at the Goldfield Hotel as well as Virginia City’s Washoe Club and Berlin State Park, she also hopes to help people connect to their own spirituality.
“My goal is to help people find their own unique path,” she said. “I encourage people to reach out and do what they need to do to develop their own spirituality.”
It is the journey she has been on since that night in the haunted hotel.
“I feel like I am much stronger spiritually,” she said. “I am more rooted in my own Christianity.”