Author Archives: backfromtheborderlands

About backfromtheborderlands

These writing pieces and a few photos are from my experiences and messages I have gathered from living in the borderlands.

A Dream Gift

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

(Every now and then I have a dream that really sticks to me. I sense there is a message for me. In my dream I am cleaning my friend’s mountain house. We are leaving and she and her family are on their way. They arrive before we are finished. I keep cleaning. She says to me “I have something for you”. I have to stop cleaning to receive the gift she has for me. It is a beautiful bracelet.)

Sometimes we have to stop

To stop being useful

To receive the gift

The gift of being

Truly loved

Categories: dream, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Palm Branches

Here is a reflection poem on Palm Sunday.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

Palm Branches

They thought they knew

How it would all play out

When Messiah came.

When He did come

He did not do what

He was supposed to do.

They did not have room

In their hearts,

Hardened by certainty.

No room for adjusting

And aligning

Their thoughts

Their actions

To God’s.

What about me?

Do I have room?

Or am I so certain

I know the way –

That I miss it?

Mary had a choice.

She heard the invitation

And sat at his feet,

Became a disciple,

Learned 

She had room

In her heart.

Her acceptance

Of the words and teaching

Upturned the Patriarchy,

And helped her brothers

To have room as well.

But the palm waving

Crowds shouting

Hosanna, quickly turned

To Crucify him

When he did not do

What they thought 

He was supposed to do.

Categories: Faith, God, growth, Lent, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Caught Between

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

As winter begins 

It’s slow retreat

As blossoms unfold

At an unhurried pace

I find myself 

Wondering

How will it all end?

With a bang 

And a flash

A nuclear waste

An eternal winter or

Never ending fire?

Or will goodness

Once again prevail?

With a slow push

Towards the light

Towards love

With captives

Being freed

With grief and loss

Giving way to hope

And tears of relief

With lessons learned

Will the cycle of life

Begin again?

The little bird chirps

From its perch 

In the tree

“You choose

You choose”

Caught between

Hope and despair 

I choose hope

Categories: Birds, Faith, Hope, Lent, Life, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This War

Photo by Sima Ghaffarzadeh on Pexels.com

Mother’s in labor

Birthing their babies

In the subway stations

Away from the bombs

Exploding above ground

Bombs hitting

Maternity hospitals

Children’s hospitals

The elderly making their way

Across the rubble

Leaning on their canes

The tear streaked cheeks

Of children saying goodbye

To their fathers

Through the train windows

These images

We are seeing

Broken hearts, broken lives

Anger at this waste

Of precious lives

We are angry

I am angry

Trying not to hate

Hate will do no good

For me or those I love

For this world

Already steeped in it

Why this war, this way?

How does this one leader

Live with himself?

Is this how he wants

To be remembered?

The cruelest of tyrants

Inflicting his insanity

On the vulnerable?

Is there a shred 

Of the soul left to appeal to?

To lament and pray for?

He is not the only tyrant

Still alive today

Perhaps, it’s not too late

To hope

To pray

Categories: grief and death, lament, pain, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Let the flowers

Let the flowers

Do their work

Inviting you to smile

To enjoy their beauty

When you see them

In the vase

On the stem

Or blooming from the branches

Stop and let them

Share their joy

If there is any time you need it

It is now

Their joy

Their beauty

Can birth hope

In your heart

In these dark days

Waiting for spring

Let them do their work

Then you can do yours

Categories: beauty, Hope, Poetry | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Reduction

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Reduction

Simmering on a back burner

Evaporating

Diminishing 

To concentrate flavor

And thicken the broth or sauce

Aging, chronic illness, plus the pandemic

Reducing me

Refining is painful

Simmering on the back burner is no fun

Pruning makes me sore

Yet

Hopeful to become

More truly who I am

A thicker, more flavorful me

Let it continue

Grow and stretch

Let the trials 

The isolation

Turn me into

A highly concentrated glaze 

A viscous

Honey or roux

Categories: growth, Hope, Life, pain, pandemic, Poetry | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Smuggling Hope

Photo by Hakan Erenler on Pexels.com

I dreamt the other night I was in the reception area of a Concentration Camp. It was in Northwest China where the Uyghur and other Central Asian people are going through a genocide. It is a horrible nightmare for them. I left a bag for the young Uyghur man working there. In my dream I had forgotten to get my phone out of the bag so had to go back and find it. In the bag he’d already wrapped a small New Testament I had left in a piece of clothing. I grabbed my phone and left. 

Later as I mulled over this dream I remembered my first trip to China in 1980 with my husband. We were in our early 20’s and working in Hong Kong for the Red Cross. We taught English in a refugee camp for Vietnamese people. During that year we took a trip into China.  In those days it was hardly open to outsiders.  We volunteered with a group that was smuggling Bibles through tourists into Guangzhou. Before our trip a big strong Texan in a cowboy hat  and boots loaded up two suitcases and two carry-on pieces of luggage full of small Chinese Bibles. We could hardly carry the suitcases. We struggled across the border and of course caught the eye of the border security. They looked in those big suitcases and confiscated them. We could pick them up on our way out the next day. They did not look into our hand luggage. So we took them in and dropped them off somewhere in the hotel we were staying for someone to pick up.

We no longer smuggle Bibles into China. We only did that once, but we did move there to teach English in the mid 80’s. We lived in the northwest region and many of our students were Uyghur and Kazakh as well as Han Chinese. I can say we didn’t smuggle Bibles but we did smuggle hope. We had many conversations about God, the purpose of life and each of our belovedness. These conversations brought hope to people who knew there was more to life than what the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) was telling them. Even then their lives were extremely controlled. Where and if they would go to university. What they would study. Where they would work afterwards. They were told what to think and what to believe.

Now the circumstances are quite dire and dangerous if you happen to be Uyghur or Kazakh or any other Central Asian living in northwest China. Since 2017 over a million people have been interned in concentration camps, where they are constantly indoctrinated (brain washed), they are forced to labor for little or no wages, tortured, dehumanized, children separated from their families, sterilized, and the list goes on. 

How can we smuggle hope to these people? It seems impossible, but if they could just know people care and are working in different ways to push back on China for these gross human rights abuses. 

What if we shopped carefully trying to avoid products made in China? Many of which are made or sourced in this region. What if we personally boycotted the Olympics? What if we found the Uyghurs in our nation and reached out to them with some hope, letting them know we see them.  

These are just a few thoughts wondering how regular people like you and me can help end a genocide.

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Life, Love | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

While You Were Scrolling

While you were scrolling

Oh my soul

The clouds were piling

Up in the west

The leaves were falling

Silently around

The geese began their ascent

Forming their V above you

The sun hit the clouds 

In it’s descent

The light changed 

To a golden hue

Then became pink

Like the summer’s last rose

It lit the tree tops on fire

And the falling leaves

Turned to gold

The light hit your phone

And you looked up

Just in time to see

The geese overhead

The rosey light changing

Yet again

With the sun setting

Over the water

© 2021 Julie Clark

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

Falling

I.

It seems this year

More than ever

The fall colors are

Astounding me

They call me

To stop 

 Breathe deeper

Slower

Let my burdens fall

I drove up a winding road

Under a canopy 

Of fall foliage 

It felt like a giant hug

An invitation to joy

My heart rejoiced

II.

Walking in the woods today

The maple trees ablaze

Letting go 

Leaf by leaf

Fluttering and falling

To join the ever growing piles

Dampened by the rain 

That my tears

My sorrows 

My loss and grief 

One by one

Would softly fall away

Like the maple leaves

To Become mulchy piles

To feed proceeding generations

© Julie Clark 2021

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bird Calls

The birds call to me

In many different ways 

Distracting me with 

A flash of color

Wings spread for soaring

Or fluttering from tree to tree

A caw or a quack

Or the Golden Crowned Kinglet’s

High pitched chirp

They are so tiny

How did I miss them before

I was too busy

Going here and there

I forgot to pay attention

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Birds, growth, Poetry, Trees | Tags: | 1 Comment

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