By J.J. Huggins
METHUEN — Mary Jo Coady walked into her daughter's bedroom Sunday afternoon and noticed a familiar image on the bottom of an iron sitting on the floor.
"I see his eyes, his nose, his whole face and I was like, 'That's Jesus looking at us,'" Coady said.
The rust-colored residue on the bottom of the iron strikes a remarkable resemblance to Jesus Christ. For the 44-year-old secretary who was raised Catholic, the image reaffirmed her faith at a time when she has separated from her husband, had her hours cut at work, and moved out of a house she owned and started renting a home where she now lives with her two college-age daughters.
"It just gave me a sign that life is going to be good," Coady said. "I think he's listening."
Coady said she hopes her story will lift other people's spirits in time for the holidays. Her daughters — Melody, a 21-year-old student at Northern Essex Community College, and Alison, a 20-year-old student at Merrimack College — aren't ones to overreact to an iron.
"They wouldn't believe this if it hit them in the head, and they were like, 'Mom, that's Jesus looking at us,'" Coady said.
Coady found the iron on the floor next to the bureau in Alison's room. Alison said she last used the iron weeks ago.
This is not the first time someone has believed they found Christ on an everyday object.
In April, a South Carolina woman made headlines by finding an image that looked like Jesus in a piece of cheese toast. A couple in Ohio claimed to have found Jesus on a pancake in 2006, and a Milwaukee woman claimed to have found him on a tree in her yard in 2002.
Dr. Joseph Kelley, associate professor of religious and theological studies at Merrimack College, called upon the thinking of Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung to explain the phenomenon. Jung believed external religious images such as statues, icons, and sacraments receive their power from the deeper spiritual realities in the souls of people who revere the images, Kelley said.
"A person sees the image of Jesus somewhere because the inner presence of Christ is active in their spiritual life and is projected out into the external world. So a person's conviction about the outer image is rooted in her or his inner spiritual life," said Kelley. "Jung thought this was true, both of accepted religious images and artifacts, such as a painting of Jesus or Moses or a saint, as well as of more idiosyncratic or accidental phenomena. The external image has meaning because of the inner conviction of the one who believes."
As for what she'll do next, Coady's plans are simple.
"Buy a new iron and keep this one in my closet."
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