The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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[The response to our recent fund-raising effort has been heartening. The letter we sent to subscribers is reprinted here for those readers who don’t subscribe. We invite your response as well.]
“Thou hast given so much to me,” George Herbert wrote. “Give one thing more — a grateful heart.”
As The Sun enters its fifteenth year of publication, it seems appropriate to pause, and give thanks. Regrettably, I rarely do. Instead, in the service of getting out another issue — always, another issue — I neglect to appreciate the miracle that sustains us. I focus on what doesn’t get accomplished, how many unchecked items remain on my list. If I pause, I’m more likely to be thankful for the troubles that didn’t befall me — not exactly a hymn of praise.
When I’m really thankful, though, my generous embrace includes it all: the good times and the bad; the blessings I can’t help but notice, and the blessings my troubles artfully disguise. I’m thankful for the years of struggle: the months I couldn’t pay the rent or the printer; the unexpected help that always chose the last minute to arrive. I’m thankful for the way The Sun challenges me as an editor and as a writer and as a businessman — and as an ordinary man, burdened with his fears and his forgetfulness, his wobbly faith.
As the magazine’s readership grows and its influence widens, I feel a deepening responsibility to keep The Sun true to itself. This involves everything we do at 412 West Rosemary — from how we shape each issue to how often we sweep the floor. The wish is to stay conscious, whatever the task.
At every stage, we’ve faced different challenges. Now, with our growing readership, there’s an ever-larger stack of mail and manuscripts to read each day; there are more phone calls to answer; more details to remember; more of us working here. How do I make sure the work is done as economically as possible, without becoming neurotically absorbed with office efficiency? How do I honor the creative spark while honoring, too, the details? The postal rates just went up, hitting small magazines especially hard. Shall I ponder that today? Or consider the manuscript in front of me? Or look for a larger office, since we’ve outgrown the little yellow house with the leaky roof?
On the one hand, I’m seduced by how much there is to do, by my unrelenting busyness; on the other hand, I’m lured, like a child to bright lights, by the dazzling promise of “time management,” as if better organization — one more list — were the key. In my quieter moments, I realize that busyness and efficiency are both traps, an elaborate camouflage that keeps me from my real work, which is to see through “the work” to the living soul of things.
I hope, notwithstanding our challenge in getting out The Sun, that it continues to speak to its readers in an honest and meaningful way. What hasn’t changed, what will never change, is the wish to make each issue better than the one before; to present writing that is artful and truthful, that leaves us not with easy answers — with a master key — but with questions that themselves miraculously unlock doors.
Toward that end, we ask again for your help, as A Friend Of The Sun, in pledging your ongoing financial support. Such help, in the form of a yearly or quarterly tax-deductible donation, provides a reliable source of revenue for the magazine. It helps us to pay our writers and artists, who often labor with little recognition and even less compensation, and who richly deserve more of both. It enables us to meet our growing need for more office space and equipment. Most importantly, your help makes it possible for us to continue improving the magazine without worrying about how to pay the bills.
The existence of a magazine like The Sun suggests a connectedness between those who write for it and those who read it — an extended sense of family. We’ve always depended on your generous support; perhaps, in less tangible but no less important ways, you too feel supported — by this odd little journal, this magazine of ideas, that speaks month after month to the grace that sustains us all.
Editor, The Sun