Faith revealed in backyard dig

Friday, May 7, 2010

Several years ago, Roy Allen dug a shell from his back yard where he's planted a garden. He set the shell on a concrete slab, left it there a couple of years and then brought it into his house with some rocks. After a while, he looked at the shell. It was about 2 a.m. His wife called to him saying, "Put those rocks down and come back to bed."

When that didn't work, Dianne Allen got up, went to her husband and she was handed the shell. She looked at it under the light on their kitchen stove.

"What do you see?" Roy asked Dianne.

"That's the face of Jesus," she replied.

However, the face depicted in the shell doesn't have a well-groomed beard. The face isn't handsome as depicted in oil paintings of Jesus.

"Right," Dianne said in a telephone interview. "And that's not the way the Bible describes him. He's not comely. That's what the Bible says. It's not like he was a handsome man. That shell looks like what men describe him as."

Roy and Dianne see the face of Jesus with a cloth wrapped around his head.

Roy found the shell about three feet below the surface of his back yard.

The Allens live on Orange Street in Lewisburg. They have an old farm plough that's painted green like the color of John Deere tractors, and it's at the end of their driveway. Their nice house is in a good neighborhood on the south side of West Commerce Street.

Roy says since that morning at the kitchen stove, he's shown the shell to about 100 people and all but one tells him that, yes, they too see the face of Jesus.

James Anthony, 44, also lives on Orange Street and James was one of the first people to see Roy's shell.

"The first time I looked at it, I looked at it for about 15-20 minutes and then I went into my camper and put a light on it, close. I could see it then," James said.

"It looks kind of like a bandana around his head and it looks like a frontal version of a silhouette," he said in a brief telephone interview on Roy's house phone. "You can see the beard and headband."

What caused this?

"That would be a million dollar question," Anthony replied. "I don't know. Somebody of no faith might not see it, but once you look at it, the silhouette stands out."

Roy has a strong interest in geology and says, "People don't realize this whole area was under the sea" many, many years ago.

In his backyard, Roy points to a large rock in his yard. It's only emerging from the topsoil. It's clearly much larger than what might be described, symbolically, as the tip of the iceberg.

"These were under the sea and over there, I hit a rock with a hammer and it made a different sound," Roy says. He has speculated that there might be a cave under that part of the ground.

Roy feels "blessed to have found" the shell with such an inspirational image, he said. "I feel like I have $1 million.

"I look forward to going on tour with it," he said.

With that in mind, Roy has built what James calls a "contraption." It's created to provide a good view of the shell. The base is made from a travel bag with wheels so the display contraption is easily moved. Some aspects of it are "kind of like a telescope," but the place to view the shell has a clear piece of rounded plastic to protect the shell. The shell is mounted inside an illuminated container.

Roy has several places in mind for the display. He's not established a schedule, but beyond sharing the image of Jesus with church congregations, Roy mentions a grocery in Lewisburg where he'd like to post his display. He also says that he would accept invitations from service clubs to show the shell and tell about it.