A little over a year ago I went out on the Kawasaki mule to look for wood for walking sticks. I spent a few hours traveling around the woods, looking, walking, pondering and searching for the right pieces to choose. The last stop on my trip was near my fathers shop, just down the dirt road from where he worked on his Native American crafts before he passed away in 2008. There is a good stand of young poplar trees growing beside the road, so I began walking through them and picking out the ones I thought would make good hiking and walking sticks. When I arrived home I had a good “mule load” of pieces to work with.
Since then I have pulled them out one at a time and made everything from walking sticks to Santa ornaments from them. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that I only had one piece of that wood left. I decided to make a walking stick…
I took the piece down and measured it out for the walking stick. I cut the handle and the length for the body, I then notched the end of the body and cut a hole in the handle, covered them with glue and put them together. The next stage is to put a screw though the two pieces to ensure they hold together, the final part is wrapping a leather strap around the handle for a decorative effect, then I began work on the finish…
When the walking stick was completed I had a couple of pieces, around a foot long, left over. We do a few local shows, and with labor day weekend coming up I started thinking about what I have in inventory, and what I may need for the show I would be in. I had made a few crosses before, varying in length from a foot or so down to five or six inches. They have always sold well, so I decided to use the left over pieces and make a couple of crosses.
I took out the first piece, it was shorter than the other, and started to carve the ends down. Normally I debark the entire piece and cut the wood square, then notch the cross length and the body to fit together. This time I felt that if I left the bark on it would look pretty good, so I gave it a test run. I worked with the two pieces, carving the ends down, sanding them a bit to remove the rough edges, fitting them together, taking them apart, flipping the cross piece around first one way then another, carving a bit here and there to secure a good snug fit. When I was happy with the result I put on the glue to hold them together, then wrapped a piece of leather around it for decoration, then put a hook on the back and ran a small piece of leather through it so it could hang on a wall. I looked at it, tested the fit of the pieces and hold of the glue, tugged the leather to make sure it was secure and was pleased with the outcome. As with most things I make I stepped out on the front porch and snapped a picture of the cross with my cell phone and posted it on facebook. I then sat it aside and grabbed the next piece and repeated the process…
The two crosses sat for the rest of the evening on the table next to me. Later that night I thought of my nephew, Michael Bloodworth… he had recently been baptized and joined Cedar Creek Baptist Church here in Newnan, he had commented before about liking my work, so I decided, in light of his new found faith, that I would give him one of the crosses as a gift.
I decided to give him the smaller of the two crosses and tossed it in the Kawasaki mule as I headed out to meet my son’s school bus at the end of the driveway. Once he was on board the mule we headed next door to visit my mother for a bit and show her the cross. She was engaged in an afternoon card game with a few other southern ladies, they passed the cross around and commented about it, then we headed out to my nephew’s house to give it to him. Michael’s grandfather Jack was there and told us that he was out for a bit with my niece Brittany and their son Bennett, so I left the cross with him to pass along to Michael when he got home.
Later that evening I received a notification on my cell phone that Brittany had posted on my facebook wall, so I took a look and saw that she had written a thank you to me for the cross and added the line, “You know the face of Jesus is on this cross? You can see it plain as day…” so I responded that I wanted to see it.. We headed over there after dinner to take a look at it, and sure enough, there it was. A likeness of the face of Jesus, very similar to the face on the Shroud of Turin.
I couldn’t believe that I had taken the time to make the cross, took a picture of it and posted it on facebook, had it next to me all evening, then carried it around all afternoon, and had never noticed it. I even went back to my facebook page and looked at the picture, and could see it there… As we were looking at the piece Michael noticed something strange on the cross length where the hands would be nailed into place… In the spot where his left hand would be you could clearly see, well… a left hand with its thumb sticking straight up, you could easily count all five fingers, and a line, as if it were a lash or rope across his forearm. I looked at it and saw it immediately, then I looked at the other end where his right hand would be, and there it was, his right hand… Again, with the thumb extended upward… a literal cold chill ran down my spine.
We began looking over the piece and found it a strange thing to behold. I took it back down to my mother’s house to show her. I walked in and said, “Put your glasses on I want to show you something..” I handed the cross to her and asked, “Do you see anything odd about this?” she stared at it for a few moments, then said, “I see a face on it…” I pointed out the hands to her and she saw them as well. That was an odd moment.
Since that evening, quite a few odd moments have taken place. Several people that have handled the cross have reported to me that they have been left with a strange sense of calmness once they’ve held it. One of my long time friends handled the piece and prayed with it, later that evening he said to me, “You know me, and you know I wouldn’t just say this, but since I prayed with that cross, my left hand has been tingling…”
Several pastors have looked at the cross, a catholic priest has blessed it, we were featured in an article on the front page of our local paper about it, and we have received calls and emails from people all over the region wanting to see it.
I like to think of it this way… that for a brief moment in time, in some strange, cosmic way, my father sent me a note, I can hear him as plain as day… “Boy… I’m proud of you and the work you’re doing, now stop ogling this piece of wood and get busy…”