It’s Complicated”

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I have been hearing this phrase more and more lately.  It’s a handy little phrase. I’ve used it myself many times when I am struggling to understood an issue or a situation.  It is true that life is complicated, human beings are complicated, but I feel like this phrase can be used now as an excuse, a way of not getting involved.  It is a way of distancing oneself from a messy perhaps dangerous situation. There are numerous situations going on around the world that are both messy and dangerous. 

I wonder in a revised version of the Good Samaritan story if one of the religious leaders who crossed the street away from the poor guy beaten and left for dead may have mumbled to himself as he hurried away – “It’s complicated…maybe he deserved what he got or maybe he has a contagious disease, or worse if I stop and help maybe someone will get me next!”

Last night I attended a vigil, calling for an end of the inhumane detention of immigrants in our country. I was heartened to see the church where the vigil was hosted packed out. More and more people are outraged at the news that is coming out and wanting to get involved or at least learn about what is happening.  It was helpful to hear from women who themselves endured the indignity of being locked up and treated as a criminal. (No it is not illegal to seek asylum.) Both women mentioned how terrible it was to witness the way children were treated. One saw the the agents tearing children away from their parents. 

There are numerous things we can do to help. We can raise our voices for the voiceless. We can contact our representatives both federally and locally. We can volunteer, we can donate, we can educate ourselves and help others understand.  We each can do something.  

Let faith have wings that lift us to pray

Let hope have eyes that look for solutions

Let love have feet that move us to action

May we take a risk to love our neighbors who are in great need rather than turn our backs on them because “it’s complicated”. 

I do not know what the answers are to good immigration reform. I need to learn. I do know inhumane treatment of immigrants is not one them. Another phrase I am hearing that I like much better is “This is not a political issue it is a moral issue.”

Categories: children, Faith, God, Hope, Love | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reflections on the Tiananmen tragedy, 30 Years Later

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(I am very happy to host a guest blogger today, Bill Clark, my husband and companion on a journey for nearly 40 years.)

In the Spring of 1989 my wife Julie and I and our 2 small children were living in Northwest China. We lived in a small city, Guldja or Ili, 64 kilometers from the USSR border. I taught English at a regional teacher’s college.  That semester I taught an evening class open to the community which met two nights a week. In May the students were consistently showing up 15-20 minute late for class. When I pressed them on it, they said they were watching the live evening news broadcast from Beijing which, because of the time difference, started at 5:00 pm local time. They explained that at that time every evening the latest news was available from the students camping out in Tien An Men square. Sometimes as a teacher you have to know when to go with the flow. I am glad I went with the flow on that issue.

The entire nation, including our small provincial town, was transfixed by the events happening among the students and young people in Beijing. Beijing’s elite educational institutes collect the best and brightest students from all over the country including from among the several hundred families who lived on our Teacher’s College campus. The demonstrations were personal for our neighbors.  There was a profound hope in the atmosphere of our school that the reforms the students were expressing would be for the good of the nation.

When the violence began on June 4th everyone was at first shocked and then devastated. A death pall fell on our campus. Families wanted news of their loved ones and whether they were safe. Little known to most Westerners, there were similar student demonstrations at regional centers around the country. One family we were close to had a graduate student in Chengdu. The PLA opened fire on those students as well and our friend narrowly escaped with his life. He reported multiple casualties all around him. One grandmother told us she could not eat for days because of the grief she felt for those young people. Many people became deeply depressed.

The official explanation began soon after. Our college’s top communist party member called the foreign teachers into a meeting to give us the official explanation. Rather than being recognized as the patriots, : “the students were out of line and acted up  (xuesheng nau shr) and were justly punished.” One colleague said he literally felt sick as the lies we were told did not square with even the limited information we had access to.

Some foreign teachers broke their contract and left early. We did not want to do that but neither did we want to stay during the summer break. We worked out an arrangement with the school to teach accelerated classes and leave for the USA two weeks early and return in the fall with another year to teach. It was with conflicted emotions that we left as many of our local friends would have liked to have left China then, but that was not an option for them at that time. We returned in the fall of 1989 to a very different China.

Bill Clark

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True Self Knows

abstract art awareness branches

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We all suffer

When one suffers

Like ripples on the water

Tracing it back

To the original stone

Shattering the calm

 

It all makes sense

Our connections

All fractured

All hearts broken

 

Let us go easy

Be gentle

Let the drops bead up

With Holy Oil

And roll

 

Rather then

Added to the burden

Of offences

We all carry

 

True self takes no prisoners

And knows

We will be welcomed home

With love

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Faith, growth, Life, Love, pain, Poetry | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Locked In and Locked Out

door green closed lock

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(This poem is dedicated to those imprisoned in concentration camps and their families in Northwest China.)

 

What else can I do

But continue to speak up and out

For the ones locked in

And the ones locked out

They are separated from family

From community and their beloved land

From health and safety

Their hearts are tormented

And their bodies are broken

They are in anguish and pain

Can you hear them and lend your voice?

 

What else can I do

But pray and cry out

For the ones locked in

And the ones locked out

For the ones I know and do not know

To ask the One whom death could not hold

Who razor wire and prison gates

Cannot keep out

To walk among these people

Locked in and locked out

To call them by name

To comfort

To give courage

To give hope

To heal

To restore

To lift up

To set free

To rise like the sun

And bring a new day

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, grief and death, Hope, lament, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why We are going to the Mosque on Good Friday

art cathedral christ christian

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It is Holy Week. We remember all that Jesus did for us when he went to the cross, died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day rose again. The very depths and heights of our faith. My husband and my calling to follow Jesus in loving those outside our own faith community compels us to go to our local Mosque this Friday night. Don’t get me wrong, I love Good Friday services. The somber reflections of the ultimate sacrifice Christ paid moves me deeply.

 

This friday is especially important that we go to the Mosque. For many years of our adult lives we  have lived in Central Asia, first in Northwest China, then in Kazakhstan. We lived and worked among many different ethnic groups – Chinese, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, but especially Uyghurs. Our Uyghur friends and neighbors taught us deeply about many things, hospitality, faithful loyalty to family, respect for elders, love of music, dancing and food, to name a few. These very ones who sowed richly into our lives are now struggling for their own lives in their homeland. The government of China is attempting to wipe out their culture and possibly existence by incarcerating over a million people in concentration camps where people are dying daily. They are seperating children from parents and mercilessly controlling every aspect of their lives through extreme measures. We are teaming up with our local Mosque this Good Friday to lend our voices to the voiceless. We are speaking up together to say No to this horrific act of violence.

 

What better way to fight the evil of dehumanization then to join with our Muslim brothers and sisters from around the world. We will not be manipulated into divided camps, but stand together and with one voice cry out to God to deliver the Uyghur people from their oppressors.

Categories: Faith, God, Good Friday, lament, Lent, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mysteries

birds flying over body of water during golden hour

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The mysteries

Of all we do not know

They are more than

The riches some heap

While others go without

They are more than

The wars against body and soul

The what ifs and the whys

The pit of sorrows we fall into

The crushing weight of grief

 

The mysteries

Of all we do not know

The greatest is love

That holds us when all is gone

That leads us to treasure

At the end of a dark tunnel

It runs through us and to us

Lifting us and helping us

To breathe and to live

And one day hope again

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

 

Categories: grief and death, Hope, Love, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders

 

Hidden away

For me to find

To discover

Secret treasures

Or surprises

Early spring buds and flowers

The haron circling me

Then landing on the beach below

The sea lion

Lifting head from the water

Barking greetings to all

The fog laying down

On the water

Surrounding the island

Like a blanket

Majestic Volcano

Radiant in white

All call me to pay attention

To notice the beauty

Of Creator

Signs of love

Wonders to ponder

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

 

Categories: beauty, God, Love, Photography, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Grief Haiku (for Marianne)

Marianne helping me with a knotty problem.

(Marianne helping me with a knotty problem)

 

She has gone away

Released her breath and spirit

We have grief and tears

 

Lonely is this life

Soul trapped in body shell

Freed for true union

 

She carried many

Can too much love break your heart

Apparently so

 

© 2018 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Autumn Poems, grief and death, Life, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Haiku Practice

 

IMG_2495

Self Examination

 

Heart weigh and dissect

Examine content with care

Cold stone or warm love

 

Breathe

 

Can peace rule my day

Or worry fret it away

A deep breath will help

 

Deciduous

 

Trees finish their work

Shedding of best future hopes

Are we listening

 

© Julie Clark

 

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Hope, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fall Color Feast

Categories: beauty, Photography, Seasons | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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