I realized it for the first time in my life: there is nothing but mystery in the world, how it hides behind the fabric of our poor, browbeat days, shining brightly, and we don't even know it.
- Sue Monk Kidd
When I got off the phone with author, adventurer and wanderer Paul Stutzman, I was so inspired that I actually considered trading in my city flats for hiking boots!
Paul's wife, Mary, passed away from breast cancer in 2006, prompting him to quit his job and hike 2,176 miles on the Appalachian Trail. That incredible journey of rediscovering God is chronicled in his book Hiking Through. Paul has also kayaked the Mississippi River and biked across America, all the way from the top of Washington State to the tip of Florida. Through it all, he’s encountered quite a bit of God’s wonder.
But there was one experience that took his breath away. The most dramatic of all the miracles in his life. Something that happened in his deepest, darkest valley. Here’s what Paul had to say.
After my wife passed away, my pastor said, “You need to look for signs because God’s going to give you signs that are just for you.”
My wife loved monarch butterflies. They’re known as wanderers because they travel around the world. Every fall, she would collect these little chrysalises and bring them home so she could watch them spin and hatch. She’d call our three kids together and say, “Watch this miracle, this butterfly emerging.” Then she’d take the butterflies out on the front porch and release them. Well, I never got her fascination. I was never excited about it. It never made sense to me. Until she passed away.
The day of her funeral, someone brought me a bouquet of flowers and I noticed there was a little chrysalis attached. When I got home, I was emotionally exhausted and, for the first time in years, completely alone. I didn't want to go to bed, so I reclined in my chair in deep contemplation of my situation and fell asleep. At 2 o’clock in the morning, I woke up to a rustling noise. Right above my head, near the light and flying in circles, was a monarch butterfly! It had hatched.
I’ve now got a butterfly in my house. So I turned the light off in my living room, turned the light on in the kitchen. And this butterfly just followed the light. Turned the light off in the kitchen, turned the foyer light on. It went to the foyer. Turned the foyer light off, turned the outside porch light on. And this beautiful butterfly winged out into the night.
After I closed the door, it hit me. My wife had done the same thing. She followed the light and she was free now from all the chemo, pain and suffering. For that to have happened the night my wife was buried... that was a miracle right there. That was a miracle from God.
Before going back to sleep that night, I fell to my knees and asked God what he wanted me to do. That is when the idea of quitting my job and hiking the Appalachian Trail entered my mind. A little over a year later, I did just that.
Check out Paul's books!
Diana Aydin is an associate editor for Mysterious Ways magazine. When she was just a little kid, she got her first dose of the miraculous. She’s been on the lookout for miracles ever since. Her favorite time of the day is lunch time, when she gets to step away from the workaday world and enjoy a bit of God’s wonder, if only for an hour!