My first story at the outset of a 36-year career at The Farmville Herald wasn’t the stuff of Woodward and Bernstein. Nothing that would lead to the resignation of a disgraced president of the United States. As scoops go, mine was pure vanilla. I was entrusted with a story reminding readers that the summer equinox was imminent. The day of longest light.
Looking back across four decades, it makes me smile to remember how excited I was to write that story. I’m glad for that joy, and how fitting its source was a day when the sun seems unlikely to ever set. In retrospect, that small mustard seed of a story foreshadowed my driving passion as a journalist—particularly during my 25 years of editorial writing. Reporting on crime and fatal accidents was never something I wanted to do.Wherever and whenever possible, my deepest satisfaction came in furthering the cause of “light.” Especially on behalf of Prince Edward County’s journey of racial healing and reconciliation.
Sunday’s return of Daylight Saving Time (Spring Tour 2017), reminded me of those first few paragraphs that I had composed shortly after joining the newspaper in June of 1979. My gratitude for the blessing of so many years in one community’s newspaper “pulpit” will never cease to flow over the brim. I could never thirst for more out of life.
My years at The Farmville Herald remind me of the time Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph, as the Gospel of John reports. Jesus, tired and thirsty, was sitting by Jacob’s well in the noon sun. He asks a Samaritan woman for a drink from the well. She is amazed that Jesus is speaking to a woman and a Samaritan. But Jesus was always breaking through barriers of segregation—social and spiritual.
Jesus then tells the woman about the living water he can provide. “Those that drink from the water that I will give them will never be thirsty,” Jesus tells her. “The water that I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life,” he adds. This “living water” is still on offer. Anyone who accepts the cup is able to drink from it.
What Jesus offers comes in many forms. One of them, I believe, is when we answer our life’s true “call. Whatever and wherever that may be. Every occupation offers a chance to serve the greater good. Without exception. All we must do is look for those ways that we can further the cause of “light.” The ways that each of us can represent, both figuratively and literally, the return of Daylight Saving Time in someone’s life. The ways that we can bring a day of longest light into their lives and become, in effect, a one-person summer equinox. Even if for just one day.
When we do that, we are able to feel—as Jesus promised—a spring of water gushing up within us, a water that forever quenches our thirst. My years at The Farmville Herald will forever bless me in that way.
But there is something else that proves, for me, the truth of Jesus’ words: the abundance of “light” that others have shone into my own life. The summer equinox that their companionship and love kindled within me.
Any light that I have been blessed to shine through the years has been, and forever shall be, filled with their luminescence. Their “bylines” are all over me.