Some see image of Christ in parsonage tree

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
ROCKWELL ó If the image of Jesus was going to make an appearance, what better place than the yard of a church parsonage?
That’s what some members of Ebenezer Lutheran Church on Old Beatty Ford Road are saying.
“It looks like Jesus,” church member Yuri Singleton said as he studied a tree where the image appears.
“Yeah, I think it does.”
The image was created by Mother Nature when a limb was broken from the tree. The resulting knot faces the parsonage where the Rev. Michael Comer and his family live. The house is across the street from the church.
From a distance of several feet, the knot looks a great deal like a man with a beard, appearing much as most paintings of Jesus look.
Step closer and the image isn’t as apparent.
“It’s up to anyone who looks at it to see what they want to see,” Singleton said.
He said he noticed the image several years ago. Singleton’s daughter, Sarah, 8, a rising third-grader at nearby Bostian Elementary School, spends time after school with Comer’s children.
“Me and Caroline do homework together,” Sarah said, referring to Comer’s daughter.
Singleton usually picks Sarah up when he gets home from his job in Charlotte. One day, he glanced over to see the knot and the image.
“I pointed it out,” Singleton said. “I said, ‘It looks like Jesus.’ The more I looked, the more I saw the face of Jesus.”
Sarah said much the same, though she agreed with her father that ó sort of like beauty being in the eye of the beholder ó different people see different things in the knot.
“From right here, it just looks like an old tree,” Sarah said, staring at the oak from a few feet away.
The tree in which the image appears is a water oak ó tall and majestic. The best guess is that the tree is about 70 or 80 years old.
As trees often do, a sort of circle has grown around the knot, making it appear as if the image has been framed.
“It’s very abstract,” Singleton said.
Comer, the church’s pastor, said he thought the knot came to be during the ice storm of December 2002 when a lower limb was broken from the tree. Initially, he said, the image was more distinct.
It’s faded a little, Comer said, though he noted it’s still fairly visible.
“It’s an interesting phenomenon,” he said.
Comer said he sometimes wonders if the image was created by a higher power.
“Whatever helps you think of God is a good thing,” he said.