The wind gently rustles my light blue camp staff shirt as I watched the sunset ahead of me. While I sat on top of my family farm’s grain elevator, the sun-baked gray steel is serving as a perching point for not only myself but all of my thoughts and ideas. Tonight was the last time that I would be able to sit on the grain leg and share my thoughts with the Lord as I prepared to leave home for a year. As I sit here watching the sunset, I can’t help but smile over the incredible friendships and memories that I think about in my quite place. Wow, such amazing people that God has placed in my life.
I think it is important to remember the people that have helped encourage me and lead me to where I am today. In the beauty of each sunset, I love to remember the beauty of the people in my life. The people that have prayed over me supported me and pushed me to do more and be the man God is making me to be. As I watch the orange and red light of the sun set further across the corn fields of the Illinois horizon, I begin to wonder what it will look like in Ghana where I will soon be living in a few days. I think about the many memories of watching sunsets with my parents in these fields and the encouraging words that they provide me. Yet the most memorable sunset of the moment was the one I had experienced just the night before. It was empowering to remember the encouragement that my newest friend had bestowed upon me as I was leaving the camp that I had just worked at for the last several weeks before returning home. In this radiant sunset, she prayed over me with a passion and promise like never before. Two other great friends also joined in and prayed into me as I prepared to leave everything that I had grown up knowing behind. Their passion and words instilled in me courage, truth, and reaffirmed my passion for what I was about to do. As I continue to sit on the grain leg, I come back to thinking about how important it is to remember these people in my life no matter where it takes us. Think about the people you have spent sunsets with and the many memories they hold. My friend’s encouragement and ability to affirm me matter so much as I remember how they push me further. They push me to use my passions for agriculture and teaching; they encourage me to be bold in all of my actions and words. In remembering them, I remember my mission. My mission of using agriculture to be an educator and farmer of men and women everywhere I go. I hope that as we remember the sunsets we love the most, we also remember the people that experienced them with us… The last rays of sun begin to fade away as I climb down the grain leg, not leaving my memories there, but remembering the amazing people in my life as I prepare for a new sunrise; in a new place tomorrow.
Clayton Carley received bachelor’s degrees in Plant Biotechnology and Agricultural Education from the University of Illinois. Before becoming an AgriCorps Fellow, Clayton served as a state FFA officer and started his own business, “The Sweet Corn Shack.”