As February turned into March, the sound of my sons taking hitting practice in the basement told me that spring is just around the corner. Baseball will be here soon, and my sons are on cloud nine.
Ethan begins his senior season playing for the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs and Will’s season will begin a little later in the Lynchburg Knothole league. The best part about baseball for my wife is that it is played in warm weather for the most part. Warm weather equals sunshine, and that is a necessity to my wife. The thought of sunshine reminds me of a story from several years ago that I love to share. As I draft this article the sun is pouring through my bedroom window and warming the room.
The time frame for this story was likely around the late 1990s. In 1995, I began a career while in college working for McCarty Associates in Highland County. I was pursuing a degree in computer assisted design, so working for a surveying, engineering and architecture firm made perfect sense, and it was close to my hometown. It was a perfect fit. I was employed a total of 18 years with McCarty Associates, so you could say I enjoyed my job and employer. In a sense you could say I grew up while there — I graduated from college, married my beautiful wife Becky, we had three of our four children during that time, and eventually this same employer supported me in my first run for a political office. This place was home.
Back to the late ‘90s. I would guess this story took place in 1996 or 1997, and the surveying field crew that I was assigned to on that day was being sent to perform a boundary survey out at The Seven Caves. If you are not familiar with that area of the county, it is very hilly and has a lot of dense vegetation. It was the winter season, so obviously we dressed in layers and prepared for a long day of walking, climbing and trudging through a beautiful, but challenging, landscape.
On this particular job we were using a four-man field crew, which was not typical. We usually ran a two- or three-man crew, but as mentioned above this was a challenging project. As a young rookie on the crew my job was the back sight man. Basically I was the trail of the crew. I had to cut line when needed, and locate points that we needed for the survey. I had to assist the instrument man when needed in carrying equipment. It was a physically draining job at times and a very boring job at down times. The boring part came about when the front two guys were searching for the next direction to go or while they were searching for property corners.
On one part of that day I was located atop a large hill overlooking Rocky Fork Creek. I would guess that I was close to 100 feet above the creek bed, and as I made it to the top of the hill I was very winded and the air was very chilly. The two front guys said on the radio that it would be a while before they would be ready for us to move, so we could hang tight. It was a much-needed one for an already tired college boy. As mentioned earlier I was dressed in layers, but the cool air was still biting at my skin. In just a few short minutes the sun popped through the trees, and trying to describe what that felt like on that cold, crisp winter morning would fall short. It warmed me to my core.
As I stood in the light on top of that hill I realized my eyes were getting heavy as my body warmed in the heat. I decided to kick two fairly large boot holes into the hillside and leaned back against a large beech tree. And the rest, well, I don’t remember. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing I have ever done as I could have lost my footing, balance, or in my slumber just fallen to my death in the creek bed. But for that moment in time, I slept like a baby. The sun — what power it held on that day. My stress of life, my aching muscles, and any care or concern diminished and I slept.
I slept so deeply that my crew members beeped, and yelled and called my name over and over again on the radio until I finally was awakened. I had been asleep for 25-30 minutes. I blamed it on the sun. If it had not been for the sun, then I would have remained cold and would have had to move around to stay warm. But the sun, it had to shine, and that made me sleepy.
There comes a time in life that we just need to stop and smell the roses, and then there is time that we need to just be still and let something bigger than each of us take over. In that moment I rested. The sun shared its power and strength with a young college boy who was in need of a nap. Not only did it warm my skin, but it transformed my soul. It took me to a place that wasn’t on a hillside on the eastern side of Highland County, and it most certainly wasn’t cold.
A few articles back I mentioned the sun shining in the stained glass window at the Sugar Tree Ridge Church of Christ, and how it warmed my face. You can read anything or nothing into this thought, but I still feel this is God shining on me and you.
When life happens, and it does every day, take a moment and let the sunshine warm your way. Cherish the peace and quiet that comes with being still.
One of my favorite bible verses out of many goes as follows: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10
May your days always be filled with son-shine even if the sun is nowhere to be found. Be still.
Chad E. McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.