The Man Who Held a Dying Marfa Light on his Fingertip

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The mystery of the Marfa lights has puzzled Texans for over 175 years. In the desert on the outskirts of the tiny art community of Marfa, Texas, people have been seeing glowing orbs that hover in the night sky. The phenomenon has created a tourist attraction for Marfa, and there’s even a dedicated observation center along US-90. Everyone from 19th-century cowboys to World War II pilots have seen the strange lights, but no one knows exactly what they are. This is the story of a minister who claimed he held a Marfa light on his fingertip while his entire family watched. It’s truly a legendary encounter in the long history of this great Texas mystery. The story is told in James Bunnell’s invaluable book Hunting Marfa Lights, possibly the best-reached volume ever written on the subject.

In the winter of 1994, Reverend Alton Sutter, his family, and a fellow minister and his family decided to go out and see if they could spot the legendary Marfa Lights. They were on a lonely ranch road late at night when they claimed to have witnessed several lights come flying over the road, not far from their position. One slowed while the others went on. Sutter’s son called out to him, telling him one of the lights was landing.

The Man Who Held a Dying Marfa Light on his Fingertip

Sutter said that the light, which was the size of a softball, shrank as it descended to the roadside. This sent the witnesses scrambling to get a close look. Reverend Sutter arrived on the scene first. According to Sutter’s account, the Marfa light was now the size of a pea. The glowing orb was also translucent. Sutter pulled off his glove and did what would have terrified many people in his situation: he reached out and held the tiny orb on his fingertip.

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