August 28, 2014

... But Deliver Me From Bureaucrats by Bruce Atchison

In spite of my being almost blind, I consider myself wondrously blessed. Thanks to the heavenly Father, I have a beautiful house in a tiny hamlet. It's so peaceful here that I feel like I'm on a permanent writing retreat. Furthermore, I get up when I feel like it, eat when I want to, and I have no physical boss breathing down my neck.

So what's wrong with all that? When I was laid off from the federal government in 1995, the personnel worker placed me on unpaid leave for two years. I received disability pension cheques each month from Sun Life and the government. The reason for the unpaid leave was so that I could have two extra years of pensionable income.

Since I'm still permanently disabled, having lost my left eye to a hemorrhage in 1988, Sun Life sends me a letter each year to confirm that I'm still disabled. Canada Pension Plan, on the other hand, audited me in 2003. My case worker wasn't happy with my doctor's note and the tax forms I had to send in. I never did find out why that was. After ten months, my case worker said in a letter that I was approved to remain on CPP disability BUT warned that I could be audited again at any time without prior notice.

The sword of being investigated hangs over me, even though I haven't received that dreaded telephone call again in more than eleven years. As a result, I worry that I could be cut off from half my pension money at the whim of a distant, dispassionate bureaucrat.

I'd love to be free of that worry but it's the price I pay for being on disability. When I was laid off, a job skills counselor suggested that I should take up freelance writing after I showed him tear sheets of fan magazines which published my music reviews. I also showed him the government newsletters in which my articles about recycling appeared. This seemed to me a golden opportunity. I could write at home while doing what I loved.

Freelance writing and being an author hasn't paid well. Nevertheless, I'm glad I have the freedom to create without the pressure of making a living. Even so, I still live with the haunting suspicion that the next phone call will be my case worker in Ottawa with bad news about my pension.

While I can, I'll spend the next seven years and two months searching for writing work, writing short stories, and promoting my books. I shouldn't worry but I do. Even so, I know intellectually that the heavenly Father will work something out for me. Now that knowledge needs to work its way into my heart.


  1. I have to smile at your bureaucratic hangman hovering in the background, Bruce. My daughter is quadriplegic. My husband was born legally deaf. They get audited quite often, to let the Feds know they are still disabled. I've come to the conclusion that this is simply routine. For some, their disability is temporary. Those are the ones the Feds and Insurance companies need to catch. Random audits at odd times catches some of those, which is right. Hopefully you can rest in knowing that unless the Lord miraculously restores your sight, you'll pass whatever test they require - or fail, as the case may be. LOL

    Many blessings, and keep on writing. I greatly enjoy your input on the Listserve.


  2. The Lord works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. The 'freedom to create without the pressure of making a living' is a beautiful gift, albeit wrapped in a challenging package.

    Blessings as you continue to use your gifts to glorify Him.

  3. I am always impressed with your accomplishments, Bruce. Writing is challenging for all of us, as is finding the time and discipline to write. May God continue to bless your writing and give you peace from bureaucrats.

    One of my grandmothers, who became blind with glaucoma, lived with us when she was elderly. Although she was bedridden, she knew precisely the moment to turn on her radio for the noon and 6 o'clock news. She was a bright lady and was well aware of what was happening in the household and in the world. There were few aids for the visually impaired back in the fifties and sixties.

  4. Bruce,
    I pray that your heart, not just your head, will learn to trust and to rest in our heavenly Father. Blessings on you and your writing.

  5. Bruce,
    I love your positive attitude in this post, and how thankful you are. It is such a good reminder for me to thank the Lord for the many things I take for granted every day. One thing is for sure, I am thankful for you! Keep on writing!
    Pam M.


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