ROANOKE — The word "no" can shake people to their core.
Some people can't handle rejection more than once. Some people won't even venture to try at all if it means the possibility of failing.
Yet others carry with them an extraordinary amount of persistence. They fail and they falter but get back on the horse day after day. Roanoke resident Tom Durand represents the latter.
Beginning in the year 2000, a time of doomsday theories, and nuclear holocaust survival kits, Durand made a discovery that changed the course of his life. That discovery manifested itself on an ordinary wooden log.
"I was on a job transporting trees off of a property," he said. "And I took some of it home to chop into firewood."
But the trees would serve more of a purpose than warming up the house in the winter time as Durand would soon discover.
"Normally, I chop wood into 16-inch logs," Durand said. "But something told me, and I think it was God, to chop this one into a 14-inch log."
Durand said he believes what came next might not have been if not for the change in routine.
"At first, all I saw was the cross," he said. "But then I showed my dad ... I said, 'Dad you gotta come see this.' So he came over and I said 'Look it's a cross.' And he said, 'No, dummy, it's Jesus.'"
Bewildered by his dad's observation, Durand would soon draw out many more unbelievable insights from the log. Such observations would range from what appears to be a mound underneath the cross, much like Calvary's Mountain where Jesus' crucifixion occurred as well as patterns on the wood that some construe as a heavenly set of eyes looking down at Jesus.
"I've looked at it hundreds of times," Durand said.
However, many ridicule Durand and his seemingly miraculous story. He's experienced being asked to leave multiple times from TV news stations, magazines and various other media outlets.
"I'll show it to some people, and they'll say, 'What do you want me to do about it?' Durand said. "And I'll say, 'Nothing, never mind.'"
His experience with rejection even includes getting escorted out of buildings by security. Durand said he's beginning to think everyone just looks at him as though he's crazy.
Neighbors mock him as well, he said. Getting them to look at the log can even present a challenge.
"I'll say, 'Just come over and look at it,' he said. "And they'll laugh and say, 'Nah I'm too busy right now.' But I'll say, 'C'mon just for a minute.' And they'll finally say, 'OK, but just for a few minutes and then I got to get going.'
The common result of Durand's insistence turns up positive.
"They'll come in and look at it, then hours will go by and they'll still be there saying, 'Wow, look at this!'" he said. "And, 'Oh look at this!'
Believing is seeing
They psychology of perception plays a strong role in measuring whether people will respond to the log the same as Durand. According to Julie Sellner, a licensed clinical counselor in Woodford County, recognizing any sort of Christ-like design in the log would require a belief in God.
"There's a lot that drives our thought processes," Sellner said.
In part, how a person is raised is a factor that drives thought processes. Someone raised without religion can continue not believing into adulthood.
"Durand must have a deep religious background," Sellner said.
Other people may not believe, but might still see what Durand sees. This has to do with the flexibility of their belief system.
"Some people are more open to new experiences than others," she said.