Saturday, November 28, 2009

1970: My First Christmas Poem

To all my friends at Christmas
Whether close or far away
I send my warmest greetings
To help brighten up your day
The world is one
In need of joy
For sadness holds it
And seeks to destroy
This is the season
For laughter and cheer
The time for happiness
And for love unbounded
Let us make it mean something
Throughout the year
So as to affect our lives
And make our paths clear
For if Christmas means nothing
But food and some gifts
Then we're all sadly mistaken
And not really rich
For the gifts we should give
Should last all our lives
We should give one another
Our peace and our smiles
Our love and our blessings
Thoughtfully and truly
As God did
In short - we should give ourselves

- 13 December 1970

Friday, November 27, 2009


In 1970 I began a new custom. Instead of sending out Christmas Cards I wrote a poem and sent copies (all individually typewritten as I didn't have access to a copier)out to my friends and family. This year marks the 40th such greeting. Each year's has been original and unique for that year. Tomorrow I'll post the first one I ever sent out, but below you will see the one for this year.

To Himself
He could have
Avoided pain

Where He was
He could have
Missed trouble

From the world
He could have
Seen no sin

He could have
Watched all decay

His own height
He could have
Left us in our depths

His creatures
He had to
Choose loss for gain

- Kevin

Thursday, November 26, 2009



That we
Should have
Until now
A thought
To be held
This Day
Does not
Our Thanks
It does
Not begin
For how
Can a ring
Find its
This Day
Is but
The acceleration
Of what
Has seemed
To move
More slowly
Than it should
And the reminder
That we should
Maintain our
And stay
The course

- 23 November 2000

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hickory Hog And The Christmas Rascal

I'd like to give you a little up front notice about a feature which will begin next month. It is a serial story to be published for Christmas.

When our daughter, Esther, was only two or three she asked me one night to tell her a story about Hickory Hog. I don't know where she came up with that name, but I started telling her stories about him and many of his friends. Then in 1983 I put them all into a 25 part Christmas story. Instead of using a calendar which you flipped open a little window on we read one part each day. Esther used to call it a hanging story since every day it left you hanging. That, of course, was by design. I had grown up listening to the Cinnamon Bear on the radio as a part of our Christmas celebration, so I knew all about carrying over from one day to the next until you arrive at the grand conclusion of the story.

Since then there have been many more Christmas adventures of Hickory Hog with an ever increasing circle of friends. I've recorded some of these on CD and our grandchildren have listened to them over and over, even out of season. Starting on 1 December I am planning on posting all twenty-five parts of that original story for your family to read and enjoy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

KUDOS to Indiana State University, Terre Haute

Steve Reich seems happy to be with me.

I went to the last night of the Contemporary Music Festival. I cannot say how much I appreciated this. The college and all the sponsors have my sincerest thanks for putting on something of such wonderful grace and joy. Contemporary music is not only incisive and edgy, but it is uplifting as well.

I had read of Mr. Steve Reich's music, but never heard any of it until this festival. I know what I'll be buying in the future. The other three pieces on the program were also a blessing. I'm ordering Mr. Allen's work "In Heavenly Love" online today. Mr. McLoskey's Requiem v2.001x was wonderful. All four of the pieces ended before I was ready for them to end. If that doesn't mean it's good music I don't know what does.

Some Classical Music Christmas Recommendations

I would like to recommend the following two works, both of which are currently in print on Naxos and possibly other labels:

William Henry Fry: Santa Claus Symphony
This, believe it or not, was written while the American Civil War was raging. It's not just about fun. The major musical motif through it all is "O Come All Ye Faithful".

Victor Hely-Hutchinson: A Carol Symphony
This is a reworking of what is familiar, but still it has a beauty which calls for a listen.

What are some works you've enjoyed?

I'm posting this early so that we'll have a chance to order some of this music and hear it before the Christmas season is over.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Last night I went to the contemporary classical music festival at Indiana State University, Terre Haute. After the program I shook hands with the composer, Steve Reich. (I don’t imagine he went home and wrote in his diary that he shook hands with me.) I had heard of his work, but never heard any of it before. He’s taken the string quartet way beyond Haydn. I won’t give up Haydn, but I’ve made some room for another voice. Hearing this music has prompted me to some thoughts on modern classical music.

Modern music is engaging. You can’t listen to it in the background, you have to hear it with your entire attention. To listen is to observe its passing. To hear it is to acquire it. Listening to something is a matter of orientation for a time. Hearing it is acquiring a thing for all time.

It’s the same with Jesus. We can’t just listen to Him. We have to hear Him. (Even God said that!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

ILLINOIS AUTUMN: The Continuance


The Harvest
That none may be
Left unused
Some stalks
Still standing
More than
A month
Than their brothers
Are now
To join
As the
Is Liberated
From its
To our

- 16 November 2000

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This past Saturday I attended the special exhibit called “Sacred Spain” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This exhibit is free to the public through corporate sponsorship, and if you live near enough to go see it I encourage it.

The one picture that stood out to me above all the rest was “Agnus Dei” painted between 1636 and 1640 by Francisco de Zurbaran. It was a picture of a lamb.

He was on a dark slab. His legs were bound by a swath of cloth. He was just lying there. There was no struggle communicated through any muscle of his body. There was no look of anguish or bewilderment on his face. He had accepted his place.

Of all the pictures I saw of Jesus in that exhibition this is the one which really captured His heart.

The next day I spoke of seeing this painting in my morning message. It came to me that while we can be pressured by circumstances and feelings into doing things we don’t really want to do, nothing could pressure Jesus.

Think of that! There was no sin or abuse anyone could have done which would have made Jesus pack up and go home without accomplishing His mission.

I had to go through the exhibit a second time and stand before this painting again.

The Lamb of God HAS taken away the sins of the world.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another Observation