Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Lord Speaks in Mysterious Ways: Quincy's 'Jesus Tree'

It takes a bit of faith to see the so-called Jesus Tree, located in the Roman Catholic Calvary Cemetery in Quincy.

Maybe quite a bit of faith.

Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, a cemetery worker was strolling through the cemetery grounds when he stopped to look at an ancient birch tree. The tree, estimated to be more than 150 years old, had a protruding knot on one side.

As the worker looked at the tree he saw, for the first time, that the growth and surrounding darkened bark resembled a life-sized, bearded, longhaired man in a long robe, standing with his arms wrapped around a lamb---clearly the image of Jesus Christ, he thought.

At first, he kept his discovery to himself but then decided he had to share it with others. Word quickly spread about the miraculous image of Jesus on the tree and stories soon appeared in the local media.

Within a short time, thousands of visitors were stopping by daily to view what became known as “The Jesus Tree” or “The Good Shepherd Tree.” A nearby guest book recorded more than 30,000 signatures.

The cemetery responded by roping off the area around tree, primarily to keep true believers from striping off pieces of bark to take home as souvenirs.

These days, the number of people wanting to see the Jesus Tree appears to have dwindled. Still, it’s said that the best way to view the image is to stand 15 to 20 feet away from the tree at the northeast corner of the roped off area. From there, you can clearly see the big knot, which, from the right angle and in the right light, does appear to look like a person holding something. If you stare long enough you begin to see eyes and long hair in the bark.

It could look like Jesus. Or just a tree with a big knot on its side.

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