The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Holy surprises along America's highways

Far from familiar territory, we find signs of God's presence

This article is the second in an occasional series, dispatches from the road during the year in which Mark Staples and his wife put aside their prudent retirement planning to set out on a journey of faith. The first, “Plan B for retirement,” appeared in the November 2005 issue.

I stood expectantly, shivering in the 23-degree dawn along a narrow trail below the rim of Bryce Canyon, waiting to take a photo of a majestic sunrise. That moment was scripted—sort of.

My wife, Lynn, and I had planned a trip of a lifetime for more than a year. The plan called for stops long deferred in Arizona at the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley and in Utah at Bryce and Zion canyons. Also in Utah we saw Arches National Park in both the rain and sun.

The canopy of stars over Bryce Canyon on a clear night with galaxies in full view was breathtaking. If you’ve seen these things, I don’t need to describe them for you. If you haven’t, please don’t put it off.

We aren’t—and neither is the retiree I struck up a chance conversation with in Bryce. Until a year ago he worked in the same Manhattan neighborhood where our oldest daughter lives. Then he experienced a serious illness and decided he shouldn’t put off a visit out West to view the splendor now before us—a snowscape at the canyon rim, elevation 9,100 feet.We find God’s presence.

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February issue


Embracing diversity