Rev. John Farmer’s ‘Reflections’ column

You know, I can see clearly

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Every so often Baptist Deacon Burdette Warwick will comment about the beautiful Sunday sunrise which invaded his sleep, as it crept into the east facing windows of his Irvington Road home. It so awakened him that it radiates hours later, to those of us that are blessed by him.

I am always pulled in to remember how many wonderful, sunny days God has given me in the few 75 years I’ve been on his earth.

Fortunately, words of inspiration relating to faith opening brighter days is so ripe with tradition. Thinking of similar messages in church music, I am want to remember “Sunlight, sunlight, all along the way. Since the savior found me, took away my sin, I have had the sunlight of his love within.” Along with “There is Sunshine in my soul today; O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine…when Jesus shows his smiling face, there is sunshine in my soul.” For me, the king of light hymns is none other than the “Light of the world is Jesus. Come to the light, ‘tis shining for thee.”

I can so fondly remember my earlier days singing such sunny hymns from the old green Broadman hymnal (1940 edition), with its dark red pages. As beautiful as are all the newer collections, I must admit my heart-songs are anchored in the Broadman. It was the book from which my aunt Beulah Farmer Vaughan, my earliest piano teacher, selected my first recital pieces. On my keyboards friendly, at home and at church, the Broadman is a recognized sentinel of religious musicality still.

If I could program my departure from this earth, I’d like it to be on a sunny day, surrounded by family and singing from the Broadman hymnal.

Not all days are sunny, not all sunny songs religious. But there is fodder a-plenty from seeing beyond any present darkness into the welcoming light of Jesus.

More recently music reveals, “I can see clearly, now that the rain is gone…” was a popular 1972 song written, recorded and released by Johnny Nash (b. 1940). So popular was the tune and message that it was recorded anew as late as 1993, reaching number 18 on the Top 100 chart.

Another popular 1970s release was from a movie, starring Barbara Streisand: “On a clear day, you can see forever.” That song had been circling round the pages of musical history since 1929, as “Berkeley Square,” by John L. Balderston.

It is certain that God gifted Streisand with holy pipes, even if her politics seem foreign to me. I wish she’d release some of the songs made so popular by my radio favorites: the late Ethel Merman (1908-1984) and Kate Smith (1907-1986).

It is a fact that, seeing clearly and seeing first, have a lot in common. Two of our Pittman grandkids compete to see everything all along the familiar path our car discovers, as we travel around the Northern Neck. Seeing things “first” is a constant challenge.

The youngest of brothers most often declares, “I saw it first,” much to the chagrin of his big brother.

Grandma Hazel and I tease each other as we trek about whenever the boys are not with us. I saw it “first,” we will taunt each other.

One particular challenging ride is when we are going by the antique Coke truck, in front of Newsome’s diner, Burgess, near the US 360 intersection with Route 200 east. Hardly will we have topped the east side of the Great Wicomico bridge than Nolan, the younger, will spout “I see it, I see the coke truck!” The only problem with that is, that it is yet another collection of miles and minutes away, and far out of view.

“I see it first, granddaddy.” And of course, that stretches the limits of what his elder brother can tolerate; his hackles arise… It is amusing, because we sometimes arrive at or pass by Newsome’s and the arguing lads miss it altogether. “Did,’ ‘did not,’ yes I did” belch forth with such a vengeance and volume that geography is lost to temperament.

This I know: having nine of our 15 great and grandchildren about brings joy and light into our every day.