Dear Reader,

I have a habit of walking most evenings, taking stock of whatever the day has brought and listening to the night sounds of distant dogs, owls, and the occasional coyote. The path I take is the same one I’ve walked for sixteen years, ever since my wife, our daughter, and I first moved to North Carolina to restore the tired soils of an old tobacco farm and coax food out of the ground. My route wasn’t a path at first, but these daily walks have given it shape. If the sky is clear and the moon is out, I don’t even need a flashlight.

My favorite time of year to walk is near the winter solstice, which will soon be upon us. It’s an occasion to pause and reflect before the long nights begin to recede and the daylight advances. As we slowly emerge from the challenges that began nearly two years ago, the coming of the light feels more important than ever.

The other night, the clouds obscured the moon, making it difficult to see the path, and I stumbled along. It can be hard to find the clarity we need, even in something as simple as a daily walk. And clarity has been especially elusive during the pandemic, amid all the suffering, loss, anger, and starkly revealed inequity. If we’re lucky, we find the courage and the footing to take the next step. At The Sun that means bringing readers our next issue and making it the best we possibly can.

Each year, through the generosity of supporters like you, The Sun has been able to continue in what I can describe only as a sustained act of grace.

Last year we were surprised to discover that we could learn to work apart, without the intimacy of our shared space and the interactions it creates. As we make plans to return to our Chapel Hill office, we’re conscious that The Sun is approaching its fiftieth year — no small feat for a nonprofit, ad-free, reader-supported publication. Over the magazine’s history there have been many challenges, and much has changed, to be sure: the number of subscribers, the people on staff, the location of our offices. But what hasn’t changed is our commitment to our readers. And each year, through the generosity of supporters like you, The Sun has been able to continue in what I can describe only as a sustained act of grace.

You have kept this unlikely experiment going. You’ve helped us continue to search for new voices and fresh perspectives in stories, interviews, personal essays, and poems. You’ve allowed us to look for photographs from places as far apart as Iowa and Iran, images that can fill your heart or break it open. You’ve made it possible for us to put the magazine in the hands of dispossessed and incarcerated readers who can’t afford it, and teachers who use it to instruct and inspire the next generation of writers and photographers.

If you value the unvarnished beauty and honesty that we hope our pages bring you, please consider becoming A Friend of The Sun. By making a donation, you’ll allow this work to continue — to help identify that next author or photographer whose work explores the difficult, beautiful, tragic, and glorious sides of the human experience. You’ll give other writers the chance to share their stories in Readers Write. You’ll allow us to keep trying to make the magazine better.

As I rounded the final corner on my walk, the clouds scurried along as if late to some gathering, and the path came clearly into view. I could see our home in the distance, with the occasional glimpse of my wife and daughter inside. The moon was bright, and I was grateful for its help in guiding me forward. I thought of the approaching solstice, the time in the winter when darkness rules and the nights are long. I thought of how we need the light to illuminate the dark. I thought of how we need the dark to fully open our hearts and reveal our capacity for love, compassion, and mercy. I thought of The Sun.

Rob Bowers

P.S. You can become A Friend of The Sun by mailing your donation in the envelope provided. You can also donate online at Your gift is tax deductible, and we’ll send a receipt for your records.