Tracking the Journey of the Sun by Nancy Mugele


Why do sunflowers make us so happy? The entire bloom is a smile and it so hard not to see its joyfulness. We flock to the nearest sunflower fields in late summer and snap smiling selfies amidst the endless bright yellow blooms. There is a small patch of sunflowers on the lane leading to Kent School. I have been away for a week and all of a sudden it seems they are blooming – although perhaps a bit too early. Their surprising appearance and their uplifted faces are so welcoming and fill me with hope.

English actor Dame Helen Mirren said, “I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.”

Tracking the journey of the sun each day, and in each new season, has become a recent fascination of mine after living on the Chester River for exactly one year. I have been enthralled by its gentle voyage up and down the river bank. Last week my family spent the 4th of July on Cape Cod with my brother’s family admiring beautiful sunsets on Cape Cod Bay that mirror ours in Chestertown. While I was on the Cape one of my dearest friends who lives in France posted a sunset photo from her cottage in Normandy. We were both following the same sun, 3700 miles and several hours apart, yet our connectedness was palpable.

Finding the sunlight, no matter how weak it may appear, is truly a great life lesson. I am a glass-half-full person and I look for sunshine in every situation. I believe that is why I am passionate about education. My chosen field is a reflection of the sunflower field, and I stand in awe of the inspiring teachers at Kent School who help students find the sunlight each and every day. All while nourishing their students’ hearts and minds so they grow steadfast with their faces confidently pointing to the sun.

Although sunflowers will bloom only for a finite time, I rejoice in their honest beauty as they follow the daily journey of the rising and setting sun. I think I may need a sun dial.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. 

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