Christmas Wish

Though these pieces were written years ago, I pray that this year, the warring guns fall silent forever. May the world know real peace.

The Lesson of the Evergreen Grove

by Kathy Pritchett

They stand near a busy intersection in Pratt, America. Just north of the empty, snow-dusted swimming pool, they serve as a stepping stone in a path of parks stretching from the highway that borders the south edge of town to the capstone park adjoined by Highway 54 as it cuts Pratt in half.   They must be visible from some of the hospital windows, just above them on the hill, these seven stately evergreens, each wrapped in a different color of festive lights.

As I drove past them last night, intent on just where on the racks and shelves of the busy stores I would find each item on my list, I was stopped short in my mental rush by the simple beauty of the arrangement. Each tree is unique in its own right. Though all are old and tall, some tower above the others. Some are full and round, others tall and spindly. Some cluster together, but two stand aloof at opposite ends of the grove. Some have branches that drape down, others’ branches sweep upwards as if in praise. Each is a testament to the glorious diversity of evergreen trees.

Then the lights — white, yellow, red, orange, pink, green, blue. Some are spaced precisely around the trees, others splashed on with a hurried hand. The orange lights blaze out for all to see. The blue ones are so subtle, they can’t be seen until night is well advanced. Together they present the same colors that make up the spectrum and the rainbow.

Shopping finished and more at peace, I drove back past the lights — and there it was. Glorious diversity. God made each of us as unique as this grove of evergreens, the tree that symbolizes the never-failing quality of His love for us. Some of us are round and full, others tall and spindly. Like the trees, some of us gather together, while others stand aloof. Some of our shoulders droop, while others of us lift our hands in praise. We are covered in many colors of skin, just as the trees wear different colors of lights. Yet each of us is a testament to the glorious diversity of the world we live in.

As this Christmas season rushes by us so fast that the bright colors begin to blur, I hope we can take the time to appreciate the world God made for us — the glorious diversity and the marvelous complexity of it. Each year near midnight on December 24, the entire world does seem to pause, to hold its breath for just a moment. Warring guns fall silent, and people around the world stop. Some give thanks that a baby was born nearly 2,000 years ago, just so He could die for us. Some people may even look heavenward, wondering when that bright star may come again.

Until it does, maybe from time to time we can remember the lesson of this grove of evergreens. Although each of them is different, they draw their nourishment from the same source underground, where their roots intertwine to help each of them stand. They all draw warmth and life-giving light from the same sun. They’re not so very different from us, this grove of trees. And as they stand together to celebrate this season, their lights send a message to all of us.

                                      The Evergreen Grove — Lesson Two

                                               by Kathy Pritchett

Three years ago during the holiday season, I was impressed by the Christmas light wrapped evergreen trees in what used to be called Pelican Park, just north of the swimming pool. To me that Christmas the variety of the trees and the lights called to mind and celebrated the diversity of humanity.

This year, the trees are showing me a different lesson — the fact that, despite our diversity, we all share certain commonalities, that the differences between us blur as life passes on. For instance, with the passing of time, the bulbs have faded, to the point that the pink and red are almost indistinguishable. You have to look close to tell the difference between the white and yellow, or the blue and green. As they burnt out, bulbs have been replaced on the strings of lights. When the proper colors were not available, substitutes were used. Therefore, this season, we have some white lights among the pink, some yellow among the orange, some green among the blue. This is exactly the way humans are becoming. Very few of us, especially in the melting pot we call America, are of pure heritage. In fact, some of us celebrate the diversity of our ancestors, serving the lutefisk of our Swedish heritage alongside the tamales of our Mexican forebears.

There are other blendings not so obvious. Some of us come from a farming background, but may share more of that childhood in common with a city child from Arkansas than we do with a child from today’s family corporation farm. That child may have more in common with the child of a Wall Street banker than with my father, who farmed from the twenties to the sixties. Those from around the world who are alumni of a particular school may be more similar, at least on game day, than they are to their neighbors. Single parents across the country, even across the world, share concerns that the married couple across the street will never experience. All parents, married or single, share common fears and hopes. All children, from toddlers to octogenarians, who have lost a parent feel a common loss.

And there is a deeper lesson, beyond the trappings of the now imperfect lights. Once those trees were just saplings, twenty or thirty feet apart. Now, not only have their root systems intertwined, the trees themselves touch. They are growing closer together, and they will continue to do so. As humans age, we also grow closer to those around us, if we allow ourselves to do so. As youngsters, we distrusted those different from us. They appeared different, therefore they could not be at all like me. Yet, as years go by and experiences shape us, just like the wind and rain and lightning and heavy snow shape this grove of trees, we grow closer together, no longer isolated individuals, but a cohesive group that draws shelter from our similarities and no longer fears our differences.

Just as it did three years ago, the same sun still shines on these trees, and the same Son still shines His light for all humanity. These trees still draw their nourishment from the source underground, and all humankind has the opportunity to draw on the same stream of Living Water. The Bible says that every man shall acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Until that day comes, I hope that we can all continue to grow together and find our common ground. And that is lesson two of the evergreen grove — harmony and hope.

Kansas Writers Association Anthology available free

Each year, the Kansas Writers Association produces an anthology of works (short stories, essays, poetry) by its members. This year’s collection is entitled Writers and Werewolves. It’s available on Amazon for free download through September 11.

Here’s the link. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BCZNHBKV?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_tkin_8&storeType=ebooks

I have a piece in it as have 16 other members. The stories are engaging and show just how much talent is out there in Kansas. I encourage you to download and enjoy.

The Cover Reveal

The Wild Rose Press has completed the new cover for the edited version of The Judas Seat, above. What do you think? Would this cover make you pick up the book and read the back cover? Thumb through a few pages? Maybe buy it if you haven’t already read the first edition?

When a South Korean defector takes the reins of North Korea, the world teeters on the edge of a nuclear abyss. The only man all parties will agree to lead the negotiations is the man who doesn’t want the job-former American diplomat Richard Matthews. And someone at the table wants the negotiations to fail. Can Richard unmask the Judas in time? In this sequel to More Than a Point of Honor, Richard Matthews faces new opponents-and some familiar ones.

I just sent off my first round of edits. Hopefully, all steps will be completed in time for a pre-Christmas release. There will be paperback and e-book versions, probably audio as well. And I am currently working on a sequel to What the River Knows. Scott finds himself in hot water again, helping someone dig into information someone powerful wants to keep secret.

Character Development

I will be presenting a session on character development at the July 17 meeting of the Kansas Writers Association. This got me thinking as to what readers look for in a character.

Do you look for a trait that you identify with? Or that you wish to develop? Do you look for a character totally unlike yourself?

What about villains? Do you hope for someone you love to hate? Or someone with a redeemable characteristic?

Please comment. I know what writers THINK readers want, but ultimately, if we don’t write characters you care about, you won’t love our books.

Changes

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Life has changed in the past year, and yet much has remained the same. I retired from a 34 year career in government, hoping to devote more time to writing novels and blogging, but–

First, I had to deal with a pandemic. It didn’t seem to affect me much, as I had work to do on my house, along with getting acquainted with a new granddaughter. Then a cautious visit with family revealed how vulnerable travel was, though I successfully paddleboarded across a small arm of the Chesapeake Bay, with a nervous, wet, shivering Cockapoo sitting in front of me. He can swim; I cannot. I learned that he loves to travel and thinks hotels cater to him.

Back home, I had trouble regaining momentum on household projects. But then, I had an offer to do writing part-time for my previous employer. I renewed work on a consulting project. Met a new boyfriend. Committed to a major house renovation. I found my rhythm, but with a constantly varied schedule.

What this means, dear readers, is that you can expect new books to come out in time. I will blog more regularly. Pictures will be posted. Many new developments may arise, as one granddaughter begins college and another learns to walk. But I will embrace all the changes coming in my life, and share the insights they bring.

What is old is new?

I wrote a poem in high school, sometime between 1968 and 1971. It expressed what I felt going on around me. We had already seen the Watts
and Kent State riots, the Manson family had murdered Sharon Tate, protests against the Vietnam war were ongoing, and Watergate was just beginning. The Hong Kong flu was raging. Today’s headlines feel like déjà vu. It feels like we’ve been here before. Maybe we have, maybe the earlier experiences were just warnings that worse was to come.

I still believe in America, in our vision of equality and justice. But our reality is far from it today. Unless we recommit ourselves to that vision, to living together with respect, fairness and kindness, I fear the vision will go down in flames.

An echo from my past, reverberating again:

They Say My Country Is Dying

They say she’s been in this world too long.

They say her day has come and gone.

She was the daughter of a lofty idea.

She was born of men’s sweat and tears and blood.

But they say my country is dying.

They say it’s wrong for men to believe.

They say loyalty and God are dead.

She was sustained by faith and love.

She breathed and cried and was alive.

But they say my country is dying.

They say freedom must triumph over all.

They say the system is wrong, and they thirst for blood.

She says freedom must triumph over all.

She lets them thirst and talk and shout.

And they say my country is dead.

                   –Katherine Pritchett

Please, think before you speak or react or share a post. We, the people, the everyday people, can stop this madness by seeing each other as people, not “the other.” We all bleed red.