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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas, 2013

As I stare out my office window at the cold winter scene, the flock of starlings in the snow-dusted grass reminds me just what a fascinating, yet devisive year it's been. I see them take off in flight, then they all turn, and come down, not having moved fifty yards. And what is it that makes them do that? For there appears to be no leader, no one speaking for them.

As this year began, I was just going about my own business, and much like the starlings outside, just "going with the flow." My job seemed to be secure, and I was about to get my third book in the Drachma Trilogy published. Well, then, about the time of the publication of Turbulence and Restoration, I could feel the ground beneath my feet start to shift. At first it was just a faint motion to which I paid little attention. Oddly, one of the clues was that got me thinking was when I was asked by our hospital CEO if I would relinquish my spot on the Board of Trustees, so that she could place one of her own favorites on the board. Well, not liking the obligations of the board, and its own way of just turning over, and playing the role of floor mat, I rather readily agreed.

Next, it came time to discuss my contract renewal. And it became very obvious that they were looking for a way to cut my salary. And I could hear the far-off sounds of Obamacare making threats of across-the-board cuts to hospitals. I could tell, rather quickly, where I stood in all this - and it was nowhere near the top. So, rather that compromise, and end up with a contract that I had no control over, and which was going to be ever changing (and not in any favorable direction), I spoke with my wife, and we decided to move closer to family, to the area where four of our six grandchildren lived - in Northwest Arkansas.

As it turned out, the move was a very good one. For me, for my wife, for our kids and grandkids. Our house has become a place of refuge and a place for fun. And I look forward to coming home as I've not done quite this way before.

But now, with this season coming upon us, there are tremors I can again feel.

Let me begin with my own life. It would appear that my publisher has all but forgotten about my third book, and promoting it, leaving it entirely up to me. Now this would be OK if I were a natural salesman. But I am not. Pushing myself and my own efforts toward people I know not just grinds at me. I have already paid the price for them to publish hardcover editions, and to make them available through, Barnes & Noble, as well as other distribution centers. That was six months ago, and so far nothing. I was afraid that my own efforts in creating the audible version of Turbulence and Restoration was going to meet with a similar fate - but in this they came through, just this week. But as to sales of The Book of Drachma, it has not gone very well at all.

As to my day job, it is secure, and I am well-received. But here, too, there are some undercurrents of tension, which I can feel. The latest is that we have lost one of our doctors (it seems that "she didn't sign her contract extension"), and so we are going to be working extra shifts in order to make up for her absence. And when one gets a communication from one's "boss" with the words in the communique  "effective immediately," it does give one pause.

In the meantime, there are things happening in the world at large which threaten to make all our hearts beat just a bit faster. For one thing there is our president, who, it turns out, is reverting back to his style of politics of Chicago, in which if you lie to the people, and produce an inferior product (and more expensive), as long as you get the product out there, you are doing your job. And just hang all that talk of "bipartisan efforts" in getting anything done. It would seem to me that a government by the people, for the people is just talk. Add to that, the polarizing effects of talk about homosexuality - you've got yourselves a powderkeg, with a (so far) unlit fuse. And all this just as we hunker down to celebrate Christmas.

Now, if you can just put down your shopping bags, and consider for a moment what we are celebrating, and why, maybe, just maybe we can reach into that part of us that reacts. And tell our hearts to "fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people."

So, despite all the viscicitudes of this last year, know that I wish you peace. But I tell you that I'm not one of those starlings anymore.


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