Friday, December 31, 2010

A Good Year!

It was a good year for us. We attended numerous family reunions and enjoyed renewing family ties and welcoming ast least one new baby into the family. It was gratifying to participate with Cathy’s family. I enjoyed tutoring Devin this past summer and seeing him grow athletically and musically.

We were able to make several trips to the Roanoke area and fellowship with friends there.

I continue to enjoy my Woodstock writing group and this blog. Also, FaceBook and email have kept me in touch with a wide circle of friends, family, and former students. If you invite me to be a “friend” I will surely try to keep in touch with you.

Our most significant adventure was the trip Lib and I took to New England this fall. It was an Abbott’s bus tour of the region named “Rails and Sails”. Saw lots of historic towns and cities.Those that were linked to the ocean and whaling were perhaps the most interesting. The Cape Cod area was perhaps the most compelling. We were on the ground touring as much or more than we were riding. The trains ad boat excursions added to the interest. Our tour leader and bus driver were most helpful
in helping us over the hurdles that impaired oldsters encounter.

In Vermont a train ride, a trip to the top of a ski mountain, and a visit to a farm that was successfully marketing maple syrup and cheeses was also memorable.

I perhaps performed on violin as much as I have in a long while. I’m indebted to Francis Church for pushing me to my limits to learn new quartets and chamber music. I played a few paying weddings this past summer with members of Christina’s quartet and enjoyed Saturday chamber music sessions.

The bell ringers at our church made progress and were a fun group to direct and teach.

Lib and I have been blessed to live another year in a neat home and close to one of our daughters. We look forward to another year, even if it resembles the past one in many ways.

Lib had successful cataract surgery and carpal tunnel work. I hope the hip replacement operation in January will decrease my pain and increase my mobility. We look forward to “Sounds of the Mountain” at Camp Bethel in early spring and NOAC Conference in North Carolina in the fall. Anything else will be just more topping on the cake of life.

Monday, November 29, 2010


My first encounter with the music of Handel’s “Messiah” was the Easter portion performed by a community group of missionary parents in the Spring at Woodstock School some time during the late 1940's. Dr. Leonard Blickenstaff was either the director or one of the prime promoters. I was perhaps 13 or 14 years old at the time and struggling to learn the violin.

When we returned from India to America my father took us to Messiah rehearsals at Bridgewater College. Prof. Nelson T. Huffman was the conductor and sang the lead tenor arias. This was the Christmas portion and was performed in the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren and then there was usually a run out to a church in Luray. I was about 16-18 years old during those years and had been a member of the violin section of the Roanoke Symphony for two years.

During my early years as strings instructor at Patrick Henry HS during the late 1960's we performed the Christmas section with the school choir several years. One year we had a Miss Virginia to solo the soprano arias. David Burgess, our band director conducted.

Several times the Roanoke Symphony performed “Messiah” under different conductors.

One of the most moving performances was a summer one at Woodstock, Virginia with the Summer Institute Orchestra of the American Symphony Orchestra League conducted by
Dr. Richard Lert who was in his eighties at the time. He seemed to know it by heart and honed the orchestra, soloists, and chorus to apparent perfection. During the performance a great thunder storm added to the drama of the music!

This past summer our quartet with added musicians read through the string parts of the Messiah at Christina’s home here in Richmond. This Saturday we will read through it again. Next Saturday I will rehearse with a chorus that will read through, not polish and then perform it on Sunday at the Bon Air Presbyterian Church.

This year on November 10 there was a surprise performance of the Hallelujah chorus by 600 in a New York shopping mall. It has gotten great play on the web. One could see folks wiping their eyes as the powerful words and music proclaimed the good news of our Savior. This was Christmas unabashedly sung. As the camera panned the event one saw the great joy and happiness of the singers and those who apparently were just mouthing the words. All were involved! What a beautiful Christmas gift Handel bequeathed to the world!

Friday, October 8, 2010

New England Rails and Sails Abbott's Bus Tour

About 5 years ago Lib and I took an Abbott Bus Tour to the West Coast with a good size group of square dance friends from Roanoke. Even though I was already being compromised by spinal stenosis we made the trip using a three pronged walker. Our friends helped me by carrying the walker up steps when necessary.

Since we had moved to Richmond both Lib and I were significantly weaker and both of us needed assistance if walking long distances. Going up hill was a definite “no” most of the time.

We were perusing a recent Abbott tour catalog and drooling over the New England trips. One caught Libs eye, the one with the “rails and sails” fall leaf colors tour. We talked about it numerous times trying to decide whether we should consider such a project and finally just said “Why not?” We had the financial wherewithal was the physical capital where we were coming up short. Lib wrote the check and the deed was done.

This past week the experiment got under way. We wondered if we would know anyone on the tour. There is always that chance. In due course we discovered that Shirley Collins, tour leader was a square dancer and knew people from the Roanoke clubs we belonged to. John Dickerson, our driver attended First Baptist Church in Roanoke and knew folks we knew. Behind us sat Bob and Inez Flora from Roanoke who knew of our Kinzie and Murray relatives. What a small world it is!

We both have to admit that our physical limitations made it an iffy proposition. Bus steps up were always a strain. I have good upper body strength so could pull myself up. Long walks such as in the casino hotel where we got lost before finding our room and several times when we had to traverse several hundred yards of parking lot to a restaurant were scary at least to me. Wondered if my leg muscles, even with a walker had enough reserve to get me there. We had seats on the walkers and when things just stopped working I would sit down until the “batteries” in my legs would recharge.

We really enjoyed most of our experiences to the hilt! We had never been to this area of our great country and so we saw lots of historical places, beautiful mountain leaf country, and trains and boat rides that were for the most part interesting and stimulating.

I would say that if I had known in advance how difficult some of the situations would be I might have backed out. On the other hand all the daily walking we did may have been beneficial, sort of like physical therapy with all the sights, sounds, and meals thrown in. Today, one day removed from all the activity I feel somewhat renewed and possibly stronger. It’s been a definite day of rest. I’ll be curious how I’ll feel and function tomorrow.

The Abbott Bus team were absolutely fantastic! One could not ask for better guides. They helped us over the rough spots and were always there to assist us. Shirley was a real trouper and was most professional in all that she did. She is a real jewel in Abbott’s crown! She even brought our meals to us when they were from an upstairs location, or she knew that it would be difficult for us to manage them and our walkers, too! For all of us she was proactive, apprising us of what was to come and
how we were to respond. We’re tired and sore, but what an adventure. The price was worth it all the way/

Thank you Lord for showing Lib and I that dreams can still come true for people who dare to dream. Thank you for the kindness of strangers opening doors for us, waiting for us to pass through. Thank you for the new friends we’ve made who also did so much to ease our way. Thank You and bless Shirley, Melvin, and John who helped and assisted us at every turn.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Looking back....

It continues to be an interesting musical journey. Last night we resumed rehearsals for the new season with the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra, better known as the RPO. Just reread my first posting about an early September rehearsal in 2007, probably a second. I was in the second violin section and discovering that my seat partner was a young woman from Roanoke who knew people I had known.

This begins my fourth year with the RPO. Our orchestra continues to grow musically as our conductor, Robert Mirakian, inspires more effort and looks for ways to attract and hold musicians who can deliver. The economic doldrums we find ourselves in hasn’t helped...the dues our musicians pay to belong have doubled to keep us solvent. Yes, there are other symphonies around and some even pay their musicians. However, next to our professional older brother, the Richmond Symphony, many who are in a position to know claim we’re the next in terms of size and significant repertoire.

We need several “angels” to donate significant sums to match what our musicians and ticket sales produce to make us “comfortable” again. Ticket sales usually bring in a third or less of any symphony’s budget needs. We have a small dedicated corps of volunteers who help make things happen but there are still major expenses related to venue and production costs that remain constant.

If you’re in the Richmond area, learn about this extraordinary gem of a symphony orchestra that is one of the area’s best kept secrets. It motivates fine area musicians to keep their skills honed. These in turn also provide the smaller ensembles utilized by local churches for their special presentations. . Some of our musicians are the music teachers in our areas schools. The rehearsal skills they learn from RPO sessions carry over into the music classroom. If you attend a fine orchestra concert by a local area school, it is quite likely that their conductor is or has been a member of the RPO.

When we first arrived in the Richmond area sevral years ago we knew very few others
outside of family.The RPO has been a life line to productive music making for me, again, beyond my wildest anticipation. For a senior citizen this has significant
merit and there are a few of us who benefit in just this way by belonging to the RPO.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Garst Reunion

Last week my sister, Mary, and her cousin, Robert pulled off the first “Garst” reunion of our segment of the large Garst family in quite some time. Only one “Garst” sister, Nancy, survives and one Garst sister-in-law, Ruth. Both were there and put some of us to shame with their vitality and cheer. One is over eighty and the other is ninety plus!

It was also a second Kinzie reunion within the year. All of the living brothers and most of their spouses were there. All of Mary’s children and one new grand-daughter, Penelope graced us with their presence.It’s hard for me to imagine Mary and Malcolm being grandparents, but they are.

Kinzies and Garsts both have functioning musicians. No one had suggested bringing instruments and joining forces to make music. My brother, Mike, a musician who plays anything with strings, brass, or flute and can sing (he’s a professional country/western entertainer) quickly called Andy,another fine picker, composer,and singer on the Garst side ( our cousin ) and discovered that, yes, he planned to bring a guitar.

Mike helped get it all together. We found a working keyboard at the location and for about an hour before the meal Andy’s wife, Terry, a fine keyboardist, Andy, Mike and I had the time of our lives discovering music we had in common. Had always wanted to “jam” with Andy and his wife, but we see each other so infrequently it just had not happened....we didn’t know each other musically. Mike brought a case of harmonicas and we were treated to interesting “blues” licks on some of the pieces. Now there is something to build on if the opportunity presents itself again. Some of the local citizens at “the Home” were curious who the band was and wondered if they could be persuaded to return.

The catered meal provided by the Bridgewater Home staff was much better than I had imagined. The room was large and bright and the food was hot and served buffet style. Lib and I got around to as many cousins and relatives as we could, but were able to have extended conversations with only a few. Lib interacts with one set and I another. That way we get to exchange twice the information. I learned that a cousin, Elaine, on the Garst side lived in Williamsburg and sang in a concertizing chorus there. We had an interesting discussion about grant writing.

Some of our cousins we see at the “Sounds of the Mountain” folk tale event sponsored by Camp Bethel in Fincastle, VA. It was good to reconnect with them. One family, Jeff and Dorothy are kin to us from both sides, Dorothy’s father, Hubert, was a cousin of mine on the Garst side and Dorothy’s mother, Evelyn is my wife’s sister. Dorothy was there with her husband Jeff.

Don’t know if we’ll ever get this crowd together in my lifetime. It sure blessed us to do it even once. Thank you Mary and Robert again for making it happen! The pictures were taken by Robert Trout.

P.S. If anyone who was there has pictures to share I’d love to post a few on this blog. Get in touch with Mary for my email address.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Neighborhood Watch

We were privileged to be the host family for our annual Neighborhood Watch get together from 6:30 to 8:30 last evening. Our committee chairwoman, Nancy Berger, did a great job of organizing it.

Nancy was on our carport by 6:00. She put up colorful balloons and a sign advertizing the meeting. She and her helpers also brought tables, cool drinks, and some finger foods. By 6:30 people began to arrive and we had a great time reacquainting ourselves with each other. We do have a nice neighborhood , but except for the couple beside us we have mostly “waving” relationships with the others. At least we’re beginning to get to know Nancy and her husband a bit better. Not sure how much safer it makes us, but each time we meet we get the handout that helps us to be more effective in reporting activities of people that may be suspect.

The EMS and police for our area also visited briefly. It was quite exciting to see the big yellow fire truck come around the corner, go up the street, turn around and then stop near where we were congregated. Their crews came out and introduced themselves to us as did our Chesterfield police. Any activity that promotes people getting to know each other in our neighborhoods has got to be good. We have churches (sometimes across town), clubs, and interest groupings, but they’re not neighbors. We need to cultivate the friendship of those who live right beside us. That’s what
neighbors are for.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Emerald Isle/Bridgewater trips

We’ve been on the road to visit family. Had a nice visit with all our immediate family while they were vacationing at Emerald Isle. NC. We were there at Jeff and Cathy’s invite for a two night stay. Just long enough for a supper out on the town and to enjoy some beach amenities. On the trip home we ran through a hard rain storm, it’s the only rain we’ve seen for a while.

Saturday we were at the Flory reunion in Bridgewater. Pretty much the same family members there. I’ve already written about the Flory reunion, so if you’re curious just look it up on the search box in this blog. It was a hot day, but we were under a shelter and there was a nice breeze most of the time. Big trees nearby also helped keep it relatively comfortable.

I’m more of a mountain man than beach...but this was a relaxing change from the routine....just a lot of driving all at once....five hours on Friday returning from Emerald Isle and then four more on Saturday. Been relaxing today...and getting up to date on FB and email. Glad we can still run around.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Birthday Prayer

Omega Father the Source...

It is my birthday and I pause to give thanks for your Infinite graciousness to me.In my childhood you spoke to me through the voices of my father and mother. Yet, there was an instance when I came to you in a childhood terror...You comforted me and I knew you really Were.

In my youth, up the side of a Himalayan foothill, I thought that I could take a short cut up the mountainside where no footpath existed and found myself shortly hanging on
for dear life to small shrubbery roots and grass, knowing my life or a terrible fall was very possible. I called out in fear and trembling...and soon a solution and a path allowed my life to continue. It was just You and me, Lord ..and You answered. I never forgot.

I confess in my later youth to have neglected my conversations with you ...though I never was persuaded that You didn’t exist. I asked for guidance in those decisions that chart major life directions and it seemed the answers came from You.

As I have aged and I have had time to look down the long path of our journey together I see more and more clearly where You have spoken to me through family, friends, and
situations. Each encouraged and lifted me up or pointed a way when there was uncertainty.

So here I am Lord in a new place I would never have imagined being. As my body fails with age, You have surrounded me with new mentors bringing me Your words of encouragement. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” rings much truer now. It really is the shadow we fear, our imaginings as to how the end will come that causes distress. My soul rests in the confidence that some way, some how, we will meet and I will know you as only one can know You spirit to Spirit.

Thank you for another year! Thank you for permitting me be useful to myself and others. Thank You for increasing my faith by allowing small projects to move forward.

Thank you for the love of family and friends old and new who this day celebrate with me another year lived in Your Grace. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Concert at Sunday Park

It was a ritual I have now participated in at least three times... the Father's Day June Concert at Sunday Park in Brandermill. As usual it was quite warm and those of us
in the orchestra were probably more comfortable then our audience as we were under shelter with ceiling fans twirling.

Our repertoire was "Pops concert selections, "West Side Story" medley, big band tributes and Broadway selections, "Victory at Sea", two Copland pieces,"Moon River and a Sousa march. All very familiar to our audience.

Am putting up a lot of pictures for those of you who follow my blogs. A dear neighbor of ours must take credit for the pics. It was her camera work that captured these shots.

I sort of feel that this may be my last Sunday Concert performance as it is becoming
increasingly difficult for me to get around. That's why I'm putting this on my blog.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Landour Morning....

Woke up to a beautiful morning. The sky is deep blue and the temperature is in the brisk forty’s. The flowers are still blooming with their Spring vigor. Reminds me of “Landour, Mussoorie” April mornings. From Prospect Point, at the top of the hillside, we would walk down the zig-zag mile path to Woodstock School. We would be dressed for the chill mountain air. The twenty or so minutes it took to reach our destination was enough exertion to stimulate the best wide awake class room ready to learn mental state.

It is a little different here...there are no mountains and no deodar conifers to perfume the air nor mock orange blossoms. (We had a mock orange at Idavere in Roanoke and mountains all around).Still, I relish the expectancy that seems to hover in the air on these special days. Later the sun will warm everything just up to comfortable. That would be around 10:30 when the school had its mid morning break. The box wallahs would be gathered in front of Parker Hall waiting for the students to rush out to buy sweet goodies from them. For a few minutes the world seemed suspended in timeless perfection, when the Lord might look down from above and pronounce his creation “good”. I thought about all this while taking the trash out to the garbage bin this morning.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Playing String Quartets,,,

I was first introduced to string quartet literature by Harvey Krasney and Rex Britten
at Virginia Music Camp. They were on the faculty and I was a cabin director. Hearing this beautiful music one night, after hours, and findng the quartet playing, I expressed an interest and they invited me to bring my fiddle and join them the next night. Think we read through some Mozart quartets.

Several years later it was my good fortune to be eligible to attend the symphonic workshops at Orkney Springs sponsored by the American Symphony Orchestra League. There were many fine string players in attendance and informal chamber music sessions were squeezed in between rehearsals. Availed myself of every opportunity to play quartets over the ten years I attended these summer institutes.

About the same time John Hitchings, Bill Heffernan, Ivor Brown, and I organized the "Roanoke String Quartet". We were members of the Roanoke Symphony and met several times a month and actually performed two or three formal concerts. We also may have played a few weddings. Somewhat later this group dissolved and for many years the only quartet experience was whatever I could arrange with my best public school students.

Then Joyce Foster, a student in my first years at Patrick Henry HS and Carol Sawyer an adult cello student at Roanoke College invited me to be a part of their chamber music endeavors. We enjoyed rehearsing whatever literature we could play and even did some weddings together. Then Lib and I moved to Richmond...

Doug Kellner, the strings teacher at Midlothian HS advised me to audition for the Richmond Philharmonic as a means to make new string friends. I did and was accepted.
During our Christmas performances that first year, Christina Jennings (cellist in the RPO) invited me to a chamber music gathering at her home. And from that time on I
continued accepting invitations to play quartets, quintets, whatever she was interested in pursuing. We read through a significant portion of the quartet literature and once in a while we would tackle a big one such as the Mozart Clarinet quintet in A and a Brahms sextet. When we met as a quartet it was Lani Wisner (violin) me on violin, Ben Warner on viola, and Christina on cello.

When Francis Church who was a cellist in the RPO wanted to know if I was interested in playing some string quartets I couldn’t say “By all means!” fast enough. By this time I had been playing chamber music with Christina’s group (mostly quartets) for about a year, so I felt comfortable joining another group. I’m so indebted to Christina for getting the ball rolling. We continue to meet and explore the wonderful chamber music genre several times a month.

We four men met at Bel Air Presbyterian Church usually on Mondays, Dave played
viola and Larry played 1st violin. Sometimes we were joined by Lenore when we read through Mozart quintets. It soon became obvious that Francis had a wide repertoire of string literature with which he was acquainted and that if I were going to add to the group it would take a significant practice time commitment. After all, this was what I had hoped would happen in Roanoke and did for a few years before family and other commitments dissolved our group.

Then Larry had to undergo a back operation and a lengthy convalescence. Sandi, a delightful lady was called in to play second violin, and it was my happy task to play 1st. This was a new challenge for me as my position in orchestras and quartets has been 2nd violin or viola. I had to practice twice the time to learn the high notes, the fast notes, the melodies that a first violin is privileged to play. During some of this time I performed in the 1st violin section of the RPO. I definitely put on another layer of technical skills. We also looked at some composers whose quartets I had never played such as Grieg, Shostakovich, and Ravel. There were also many standard works from Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn that I read for the first time.

There was also a second quartet that was convened by Francis on Thursdays sometimes in the afternoon. Again, different folks and different repertoire. Last year Sandi got together a chamber music weekend in April where a number of quartets formed to study and perform the literature as well as together as a string orchestra. It was my pleasure to take part in that activity. The Richmond area just has many competent and gracious musicians.

Why this recital of my musical journey? Simply to encourage older string musicians to actively keep up their skills, to meet regularly and grow musically and learn to know people who have usually led fascinating lives. What I began in Roanoke I thought was never going to go forward, there just wasn’t a large enough base to make it happen. Then we moved to the Richmond area, and through the mysterious moving of the Spirit I began to encounter the people who would help me be useful as a musician again. Many would say it was just “luck”. Those of you who read my blog know that I see a Hand guiding my life. The longer I live the more I’m convinced of this truth.

Christian musicians have been instrumental in providing the contacts and opportunities that have kept me going. My grateful thanks to all of you who in any way have had a part in my happy musical and spiritual journey!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Music..some ramblings...

Elevator music, recorded music in restaurants, the incessant jingle-jangle in mall stores, people with earplugs piping in their own tonal requirements are a few signs of the pervasiveness of this addiction the human race has for music. Musical genres are a rainbow of national cultures and some are so different as to be nearly unintelligible from one country to another. An Indian friend once told my father that he just couldn’t get into western harmony...too many strands to follow. I find Native American drum and chant music fascinating, but difficult to understand in a similar opposite way.

There are ways to be open to the world’s expressions of this art. It was late at night and I was driving home from a meeting in a city several hours from home. Browsing the radio for something to keep me awake I came across a female choral group on a PBS station startlingly different from anything I’d ever encountered in my jaded musical life. The words weren’t English, there was a rich, strange harmony, but it wasn’t based on western models. Vocal production was highly nuanced from stringent and harsh to velvety seductive. Determined to play musical detective I ran through all the possibilities, except music from another world and could find no parallel. It held me in thrall as great art should and I eagerly awaited to hear the announcer tell the group’s name and ethnicity. It was the Bulgarian Woman’s Chorus . (Listen with your eyes closed and then with them open to have some inkling of what I was experiencing that night many years ago.)

Bulgaria, a small country with an ancient history of civilization mixing. European and Middle Eastern musical traditions colliding and competing and finally blending and forming a new color in music’s spectrum. What attracted me was the artistry, the precision of vocal attack, release, and timbre unanimity. It was obvious that what I was hearing was a finely honed and disciplined ensemble and the strangeness of it’s other architectures served only to make it more intriguing. I made a mental note to see if I could purchase their performance on CD’s and to my delight, the local music store was able to find and order it for me. Looking them up on “YouTube” was delighted to find them there also.

Which brings me to “YouTube”. What a repository of most anything that has ever been put on film! Since our move to Richmond I’ve been involved with a symphony and several string quartets. I needed to learn music that I had only heard of and quickly. Just barely knew that “YouTube” earlier computers were too slow to use this medium effectively. Early on I needed to know how a Brahm’s Sextet should sound. On the spur of the moment I entered it into my browser and voila, there were several complete performances to select from which to learn! Would never have thought it possible to find something so esoteric.

In American culture there is a sub strand of what I will designate as “youth music”. It is a whole universe and each devotee believes his group will last until the end of time. There are new ways to propagate these emanations and those that speak to the universal human condition may survive a generation or more. But there is so much common “ ham hocks and beans” with groups imitating each other that one has to listen long and arduously to discover the unusual and artistic. Perhaps this is the function of the late night PBS disc jockey to discover and promote the new and unusual.

Because of an early life in India, I encountered its music as a child before western music. I didn’t like western “geets” and so expressed my early preferences. That must have spurred my father to begin my violin lessons. He did let me learn how to play a few “tabla” rhythms and learn something about the techniques and esthetics associated with them. I’m indebted to his broad minded approach to all things musical. In my young adulthood I would hear a live concert by Ravi Shankar and several decades later attend a blend of East Meets West concert when his daughter, Anoushka, performed sitar ragas in Roanoke. I blogged about that event and invite you to read it, if you’re interested, on my blog “Garumchai” You will also find clips of Ravi and Anoushka performing on “YouTube”.

Many years ago there were rumors that symphonic music because it was “museum music” and expensive to reproduce would go the way of the dinosaurs. Interestingly that has not been the case. Yes, some orchestras may disband temporarily because of economic downturns, but just in my life time I have seen Virginia’s own growth of symphonies from three or four, one in each major metropolitan area to one on almost each university and college campus. There are a number of youth and volunteer symphonies and some of the richer public high schools have creditable orchestras of their own.

Because it begins its life in the human intellect, music continues to evolve in all its forms and threads The fine minds in each community are attracted to the live study and performance of their great music wherever they live.. Much of it is banal, but there will always be examples that dazzle from virtuosity or art. Great music has a long life span. Some of it seems capable of living as long as human life continues. Philosophers and rulers will continue to try to understand the place and function of music in our existence. There will always be the great debates about “The Mozart Effect” on one hand and the “ruining of this generation’s mind with degenerate music” on the other. Because music can be such an intimate art, it follows that at least some music is powerfully linked to courtship and sex, very basic human activities and interests. Hence the myriad love songs one encounters all over the world.

Music attends many other human functions. There is ceremonial music for worship and military functions. It helps celebrate marriages and eases the parting of death. It is the engine that energizes and inspires dance. Without music most of our entertainment media would be boring, it is the music that tells us what we should feel about what is about to happen. Good music, good food, good companions, and scintillating conversation is usually hoped for at dinner parties.

It is my great privilege to be able to make, teach, and use music. Do I relish silence sometimes? Absolutely!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Faith and Statistics....

We who are seekers and believers know to “live by faith”. Even the apostles who were near the initial events had to learn to discern and listen to the inner voice or look for “signs” they were moving their lives congruently with His will.

At different times in my own life there has been the experience of stepping out into a threatening situation in faith and finding a helping Hand in retrospect. I suspect Jesus in his finite form had the same doubts, especially in those awful moments when he felt the cold grip of death and all seemed lost causing him to cry out “My God, why have You forsaken me?”

Several years ago Lib and I momentarily lost control of our car on an icy West Virginia road. We were moving fast enough that had we run off the road or collided with another vehicle death or great injury was most probable. Thank goodness after a few fishtail moments the car found pavement to right us and we were out of harms way. We gave thanks for nothing more than a bad scare. We also learned how quickly one’s condition could change! That God had more plans for us grew into our thinking.

My youngest brother, a survivor of the Vietnam conflict, believes more in statistics. He had seen good friends die on each side in horrible ways and came to believe that it was just a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. To die is humanity’s universal lot. In war perhaps one is more inclined to believe that statistics governs all. One can’t change the laws of physics, but just perhaps there are other operative factors. Survivors always seem to ask, “Why me?” Believers and seekers dimly see purpose for each life and how it plays out. Scripture points to
that with story after story and one can argue with God, but there it is.

A few days ago this younger brother was rammed by a tour bus and his van totaled. His own words were “ I’m amazed that I’m still here!” Many remarked on a social network what a loss it would have been had he been killed. One even asked jestingly if “ he was bullet proof?” We live by opposite belief systems but just sometimes the Source takes the proverbial baseball bat and makes His presence felt most forcefully. Was it just statistics and physics or a tap on the shoulder from a Friend saying, “There is meaning in all life and your’s isn’t over yet! I have need to work out my plan through what remains of your life span. Get a grip!”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Favorite Bloggers....

I am fascinated by people who think and write about their life journeys. And if they have had some parallel experiences the more I resonate. I’m interested in how Christians think about expressing their faith through their lives. People who have lived some part of their lives in India especially in the Himalayas or who attended Woodstock School often have interests and concerns that are similar to mine. In this late autumn of my life I wanted to express my appreciation for the insights these seekers have provided me as I encountered them on the Web.

I ran across Jill three or four years ago. She was a young architect, designing schools for Himalayan village children. An adventurous young woman who also was a good photographer, she took well composed pictures of the Har-ki-dun mountain valley, a place I’d never been. But, above all, Jill was sensitively aware that she was put on this earth for a purpose. Her eloquent blogs attested to that. Her routine experiences were prayer like dialogues with her Creator.

Later, she made a pilgrimage to Africa for a short time to document the work of one group among many that seeks to make a difference there. Her photographer’s eye improved. There are some striking pictures from that collection.

Returning to California she is now making her way in life as a professional photographer. Jill is representative of the new Seekers. A word that describes the working out of their faith is missional. It resembles in several ways the early Anabaptist history of my own denomination, the Church of the Brethren.

Another is Rajiv. A Roanoke friend introduced me to him just this past year. He is an American military man with Indian parentage, serving in Afghanistan. He is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, between two huge movements: the West and its basically hedonistic outlook on life and its bitter enemy, the small, fanatical and austere branch of fundamentalist Islam. His business is to conduct successful warfare against an implacable enemy. Yet, while thus occupied he muses about how to retain his humanity in such inhospitable circumstances. Miscalculation with such enormous force at his disposal can either take lives of his men or cause civilian casualties. It’s a delicate tight wire to walk. His blogs are earthy, entertaining, and informative. Rajiv understands his role in this pivotal effort, yet his blogs document in great detail that he is not just reacting but is thoughtfully proactive. If there is hope for success in Afghanistan, it will come from more who are like him.

Finally, there is the small but articulate group of bloggers who are living an interesting adventure as teachers at Woodstock School in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s been interesting to follow them from their first impressions to settling in to the routine if there is such there. I recommend them to anyone who is interested in teaching there or even visiting in the area. This unique institution provides all who attend there the possibility of acquiring the third eye, that sees life from a more balanced perspective.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Kinzie Reunion

When I was a child, a family reunion would not have been my choice as a way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The first one I attended was likely a Garst gathering on a Saturday or Sunday The most dreaded activity was the first one, the huggy/kissy line. It was a gauntlet receiving line where aunts and a grandmother plastered slobbery welcome kisses on all who arrived. There was no avoiding it, parents made certain it was done. We endured it and then went on to more interesting activities such as inspecting the food selection which was being placed on long tables. The Garsts always had theirs around Christmas. It was a large family of mostly girls and was held every year without fail.

(in picture the primary Kinzies: Bill, Mike, John & Mary)

Fast forward a decade and I had married into the Flory family. Another large family where the girls outnumbered the boys. I the oldest in my family married the youngest in her family. It was a mature family and traditions were well set before I came on the scene. Their reunion was always around choice Christmas weekends. Lib and I may have attended a few more Garst reunions but not many. A new focal point demanded allegiance. Since my immediate family was all boys and one girl and I was the oldest, there just wasn’t a convenient time when we might have put together a Kinzie reunion or so it seemed. I would complain to anyone who listened that families ought to share reunion times and not mandate that theirs were to be attended.. The Flory family advanced in age and eventually the next generations wanted their own gatherings and the Christmas event evolved into a summer event still attended by 30 or more representatives from the original family.

Somewhere along the way I discovered that there were some really huge reunions where several hundred convened. Seems there was a Harman gathering in West Virginia where over a hundred came together each year. Lib and I even attended a few Garber reunions. These were usually in the summer and they were quite large affairs.

A number of Kinzies attended Al Kinzie’s (the third brother in our family) funeral some years ago. A light went on in numerous heads. If we don’t plan ahead and make a date we’ll never get together. My baby sister had a wedding in her family a few years ago and many from our family attended. Would we only get together at weddings and funerals? Then, Lib and I moved to Richmond which is a centering hub. About a month ago my sister discovered that the brother directly up from her would be in town over New Years. The call went out over the Net. There’s going to be a family get together on Friday January 1 at her home in Crozet, Virginia. Christmas was over and there was this opportune time. Our Delaware family would also be in the area skiing.

So the most Kinzies from my own family finally had our reunion. It was a rare occasion which I fervently hope will occur again. It’s been long overdue. Kudus to the following:

Mary and Malcom and their families for setting a date and hosting the event.
Mike and son Dylan for being the reason for the date.
Jeff and Cathy for taking us there so we old folks didn’t have to drive.
Lisa and family for sharing part of their Christmas time with the rest of us.
For ALL who brought music and fiddled and strummed was great fun.
Rachel who sat beside her grand dad and talked photography and life.
Devin who played fiddle beside his grand dad (I was SO proud!!)
Dylan who played fiddle and made his Dad proud.
Leanne who looks forward to motherhood in the very near future.
Mark and Jeff, my two fine son-in-laws, who could probably think of a
dozen better ways to spend an afternoon.
Leanne for taking such fine pics of the whole reunion!

What a joyous, fun occasion it was! Food, festivities, and the warm glow that comes from learning once again what it means to be family. We began our reunion almost strangers. We ended knowing that there were common threads in our life experiences and expectations. Think we also have to give some credit to email and Facebook for incrementing the swiftness of our communication and so increasing the likelihood of bringing it all off.

Love ya all! From Bill Kinzie, the reigning patriarch of this branch of Kinzies.