A Matter of Faith

“Have a little Faith in Me” – Have a Little Faith in Me, John Hiatt


Russian painted wooden Easter eggs

Spring ushers in major holidays in many faiths and religions. Western Easter has just passed, we are in the midst of Passover, and coming to the close of Holy Week with Good Friday for Eastern Orthodox Christians, making final preparations for their own Easter celebration.

The rites of spring and the vernal equinox, new life and rebirth are springtime themes and touchstones across many cultures. Faith is important to many people and across many cultures and religions. I would assert faith is even important to atheists and agnostics, and those without a formal religious tradition.

Faith is important in medicine, too. Continue reading

Happy New Year! The Pause To Reflect

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end..” – Closing Time, Semisonic

Sunset, December 2014, Falmouth, MA looking towards Martha’s Vineyard

We come end of 2014, and to New Years’s Eve, the annual celebration of flipping the page to the next calendar year. This celebration has always seemed a little forced, a little arbitrary (especially as there are other calendars out there celebrating other new years). My brother, back when he was bartending his way through school, used to refer to it as one of the amateur nights. I enjoyed the parties, especially when I was younger and it was a chance for the old gang to reunite over the winter break.  As I have gotten older and friends have dispersed along their lives’ paths, I have preferred a quieter evening among family or close friends, if I am not working (and often I am). Some years I haven’t made it to midnight.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day cap off the holiday season, and the completion of the calendar year. The last blast as we head in to the rest of a long winter, which has barely gotten under way, just past the solstice. It is a busy, hectic whirlwind time of year, full of lights and celebrations and family and friends and stress. Good stress and bad stress, but stresses all the same. It is also a time to reflect, take inventory. I think it is a good time to pause, and be still. Even if it is a brief island of peace in the sea of frenetic buzz and hubbub all around.

So as this holiday season and the year draw to a close, I am taking a moment of quiet, a deep breath, a pause, to be still. I invite you to do the same.

I reflect on this year as it comes to a close, and acknowledge the blessings and the people around me, who support me with their love, their affection, their friendship, their guidance. I can look back on the year just ending, its triumphs, its challenges, even its failures, with gratitude for the lessons learned from them all. Looking forward with hope and optimism, waiting to see what unfolds as I move into the new year. I know there are more challenges awaiting me; I must have faith that there will be successes, too, keeping eyes and heart and mind all open so that I recognize those opportunities as they present themselves.

Thank you for joining me on this journey Behind the Mask, as we continue forward together. Wishing health and happiness to all in the New Year!

Working Christmas: On ‘Being Essential’, Together

Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? – Band Aid


Snowy Wreath

Snowy Wreath

This is for all of the doctors and nurses. For all of the police and firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. P.A.s and N.P.s, techs and aides. You know what I’m talking about.

We are the “essential personnel”, the ones whose work includes nights and weekends and holidays. The ones who go out in the storms, even when everyone else stays home. “Stay off of the streets, except for essential personnel.” Schools close, businesses and banks and government close. Hell, even Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-Eleven close. But no closures or cancellations for “essential personnel.”

We essential types work lots of holidays. Correction, all holidays. Our friends and families miss us, learning over time to make the adjustments and accommodations for the holiday schedules. We hope they understand. If we are all very lucky, we can sneak in an early or late celebration. We sometimes miss it all completely. I think our families get a raw deal out of this; they don’t have the work responsibility to justify the interruptions and cancellations. They sacrifice, too, maybe more.

When Christmas and the holiday season come to the hospital, the atmosphere is festive. Continue reading