This is the end of my final week as a reporter and graphic artist for the Great Bend Tribune. Last week, a co-worker asked me what I wanted my farewell words to be.
I thought about it, and it doesn’t really feel like a farewell. After all, we’re not going anywhere, and Great Bend is still very much home to me.
But it certainly is a transition to an unknown, and a chance to spread wings into the education profession. When you’ve spent most of your life geared toward a single line of work, as I have with journalism since I was a middle schooler, the idea of a career change in the early stages of middle age can be a bit unnerving.
As I said, though, Great Bend, and by extension Barton County, is home. I have had the privilege in 11 years of journalism in Barton County to get to know many of you well, and am grateful for each one of you. I have consistently been inspired by the work ethic and passion for community of so many.
Many have trusted me to tell your stories, and that is never a trust to be taken lightly. It takes a lot courage to allow a relative stranger in on the most guarded parts of your life. That trust is a gift I will always treasure, and one I hope I have honored in some small way.
Through the course of this job, reporters often have a front row seat to some of the darker parts of the human condition. However, the job also reminds that there is also a great capacity for the light of love to shine through.
While as journalists our names may be on the stories, it is the thousands of people who toil each day – most of them anonymously – that are truly the backbone that builds and strengthens the community.
From the trash collectors, to the electricians, to the first responders, to the teachers, health-care workers and farmers, and everyone in between, your contribution to a stronger community – and a better world – matters. I hope and pray that none of us take a single other for granted.
In fact, we all have a chance to bring light into the darkness daily, regardless of our station.
Paul wrote, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6, NIV)
Jesus Himself said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16, NIV)
It is in the living out of these commands that I have found this community truly blessed in the number of people who embody this every day.
Yes, we have our differences. No, we don’t always get along. But at the end of the day, we fight for each other as family.
Never forget, as long as you wake up in the morning, you are here to have an impact – even if it is a simple smile, a thank you an anonymous gesture of kindness to a stranger.
Strive to make your corner of the world a better place every day. That much is with in all our grasps. Put simply, make every day count for something better.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “If even one life has breathed easier because I have lived, then that is to have succeeded.”
Daniel Kiewel is a husband, father and proud long-time resident of Great Bend.