children

Garden Distractions

(Found this poem on my computer from last year)

I’m trying to get some work done

Only to be interrupted by 

Bunny rabbits in my yard

First a little brown wild one

Then a big fat white one

Looks like it was someone’s pet

Then as I try to set up my computer

Song sparrows in the front yard and 

Spotted Towhees in the back

How am I to get any work done today? 

My yard is in sore need of attention

I managed to convince my 9 year old grandson

Mowing the lawn would be fun.

With a push mower of course

It was fun until he got distracted with something else 

So I took over and finished it up

His little brother helped me pull some

Grass out of the flower bed

I’ve all but given up on planting

Any vegetables anymore

My yard is too damp and shady

Not enough sunlight gets through

The slugs and perhaps rabbits

Managed to chew enough of everything

Last time I planted vegetables

There wasn’t anything much left over

And tomatoes never ripen – ever

Even in my windows. 

The only things that survived 

Were the herbs

I’ll stick with them

and the flowers for now

Especially the hardy types

Oh and the sweet, tiny

Strawberries as well.

Categories: Birds, children, growth, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A North American Historical and Contemporary Response to Chinese Boarding Schools 

by Julie and Bill Clark

A full scale genocide is taking place now in Northwest China. Uyghur, Kazakh, Tibetan, and other minority families are being traumatized through the assimilationist policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  These policies include children being forcibly separated from their parents and put in boarding school where they are systematically stripped of their language, culture, and religion. There are estimates of 900,000 children in these schools with a similar number of children in Tibetan regions. However, before we spend the effort to understand the situation in China, it is vital for us, as people of good will in the US and Canada, to examine our own history with Native American boarding schools. 

On May 11, 2022 the US Department of the Interior issued a 106 page comprehensive report on the boarding school era. The era began in 1819 and continued until 1969. The US Federal government was responsible for 408 schools scattered over 37 states. Roughly half of these schools were run by Christian denominations. All the schools had a clear mandate of suppressing the language, culture, and indigenous religion of its students. There are both marked and unmarked burial sites at 53 of these schools. The oral histories of living survivors of these schools are vital for understanding the grief of the children and their families. In this short oral history video, it is possible to see the heartache in the story of Andy Windyboy, a Chipawwa Cree American and a boarding school survivor : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDshQTBh5d4

The Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, herself an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico,  goes on to say, “The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies—including the intergenerational trauma caused by the family separation and cultural eradication inflicted upon generations of children as young as 4 years old—are heartbreaking and undeniable. We continue to see the evidence of this attempt to forcibly assimilate Indigenous people in the disparities that communities face. It is my priority to not only give voice to the survivors and descendants of federal Indian boarding school policies, but also to address the lasting legacies of these policies so Indigenous peoples can continue to grow and heal.” https://nativenewsonline.net/currents/interior-department-releases-indian-boarding-school-report

It is hard to overestimate the power of a US Cabinet official, who is herself Native American, to speak in such clear language acknowledging the genocidal policy of previous administrations. Of note is that 75% of the Canadian schools were run by the Catholic church and 50% of the American schools were run by Catholic and Protestant groups. The church was deeply complicit in an institution that targeted the most vulnerable members of their Native American neighbors, the children. 

The Chinese government spokespersons are already throwing the facts of the historic Native American genocide in our faces, saying we have no moral high ground to criticize their policies towards their indigenous peoples. In this recent China Daily piece the Chinese government spokesperson admonishes the US to heal the trauma caused by the Native American boarding schools: China urges US to adopt serious measures to truly help ethnic minorities get over trauma – People’s Daily Online. Our soul work, as Americans and Canadians, is to first acknowledge our history unflinchingly, and then ask for the Creator’s forgiveness and mercy on us. 

When we acknowledge that we are not innocent then we can advocate with integrity for the children and their families currently suffering under these genocidal policies in China. Survivors of the North American boarding schools say, “the first step of healing is acknowledgement”. Let’s make that healing start together. Below is a prayer of lament we have written to help us get started:

Lament for the Native American Boarding Schools

Creator have mercy on us and hear our prayers

As we become more aware of the sins of our ancestors

Towards the Native Americans of this nation

Help us to acknowledge the harm we have done

Help us to not delay any longer the healing

Native Americans and our nation needs

Creator hear our prayers and have mercy on us

For the harm we have done

For the trauma we have caused to many generations

By forcing Native American children into boarding schools

By trying to erase their language, culture, and religion

We acknowledge and repent of these great wrongs

Forgive us in your great mercy

For snatching children away from their mothers and fathers

From their grandparents and extended families 

From their community and their customs, religion and language

We confess our nation has sinned against Your children

For the physical, sexual, emotional abuse these children endured

For the sickness and deaths that occured

For the generational trauma that continues to this day

Forgive us

Many of these abuses were done in the name of Christ by the church.

We confess we have sinned against these children and families

Using your name

We ask for forgiveness for thinking our English language was better

For thinking our customs and culture was better

For the arrogance we displayed 

For the great harm we have done

We ask for forgiveness

We ask for healing for all those harmed by this practice

Amen

Categories: children, Faith, lament, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Years In

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Two years in

Not normal now 

never will be

Never was

We can’t go back 

Normal was never 

Ever

Normal

For everyone

All we have is

Now

Today

What will we do

With it?

We can’t get our

Dead back

Whether

From disease or

Gun shots

So we must

Grieve and lament

Mental health?

Anyone not 

Been depressed or anxious

Lately?

So we must

Seek peace and community

Two years in

And a million miles away

From what any of us would 

Choose for ourselves, 

Our children

And grandchildren

What choices do we have?

We can choose

Love, kindness, forgiveness 

We can choose a path

Of generosity and peace

We can turn our weapons into

Tools for living, farming, building and

caring for 

One another

It’s time for a new pledge

Not to a flag

But to our Creator

To our common humanity

To the planet we share

A pledge to share our resources

To help those less fortunate 

To make amends

For our wrongs

No more excuses

No more denial

To Restore the earth

To take care of this

Precious planet

We call home

To be makers of peace

Not war

Categories: children, Faith, grief and death, lament, Life, Love, pandemic, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Week on Vashon Island

After breakfast

The fog coming across the water

The ferry sounds its horn

The seals sun on the little dock

Set out for them

You could forget where you are

As the sound of waves distract you

And the surf laps against the shore

You could forget that you

Have to go home tomorrow

Back to those routines

Instead of these

And the gull cries

Calling you back to now

“Don’t worry we will be here

When you return”

And the fog keeps rolling

And blurs the seals

On their little rocking dock

I visited the Mukai Farm and Garden remembering and honoring the Japanese community that lived and farmed strawberries here before WWII. They were taken away during the war to internment camps. As I strolled the gardens there was a labyrinth with lanterns hung and intermittent Haiku streaming from pages strung with clothes pins as well. I was inspired to write these poems below.

I.

Immigrants settle

Growing fields of strawberries

Taken and interned

II.

War has many faces

Death and life roll through the land

Tears flow unending

III.

When will we return?

Children speak our unspoken words

Can hearts hope again?

IV.

Some return, rebuild

Life twists and turns with the sun

Trauma stays within

We took several hikes, this one runs along Shingle Mill Creek to Fern Cove.

They clear-cut cedar

Giants turned to roof shingles

The forest still grieves

Categories: beauty, Birds, children, grief and death, Hope, Life, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yesterday

Yesterday

I checked in with little Julie

You know, my inner child

There she was 

In her little dress

Sticking close to me

Every now and again

She would hold onto

The sides of her dress

And do a little twirl or

A little sashay

Then she would sit down

Again on the step

And keep her eye on me

She likes the quiet

She loves the bird song

She’s a little shy

A little skittish

She knows 

It is not safe out there

Too loud

Too confusing

Too dangerous

She is sticking 

Close to home

Close to me

Where she feels safe

© Julie Clark

Categories: Birds, children, Life, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lectio Divina Poem

Photo by Couleur on Pexels.com

Lectio Divina Poem on

Mark 7:24….

Jesus on the move

One place to another

Sent to the lost children 

Of Israel, yet…

Why is he here

Where the Gentiles live?

Like a magnet pulls

He draws the hungry,

The thirsty, the sick

The poor, the desperate

The greater the need

The louder they call

His meal disrupted

A noisy, needy

Foreign woman

With a child

He heard her cry

And turned his attention

Questions and answers

“Even the dogs eat 

The children’s scraps”

For this answer

She is rewarded

Her child is healed

Her faith commended

Do we see these

Women? mothers?

These men, fathers?

They will do anything

To save their child

Do we hear them?

Or do we turn away

From the disruption

And finish our hearty meals?

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: Autumn Poems, borderlands, children, Dogs, Faith, God, lament, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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

What Will It Take

silhouette of boy standing near barbed wire fence during golden hour

Photo by Nishant Vyas on Pexels.com

What Will It Take

 

Today I am adding my voice to many who are speaking up for the children being separated from their parents at our borders.  I am appalled, grieved and angry. I know this is not the first time our nation has done this, but I pray that it will be the last. I pray that men and women in our government will take responsibility and quickly return these traumatized children to their parents. Children are being used as political pawns all over the world and they need us all to speak up for them.  Today is not the time to be silent or sit and watch from the sidelines.

 

What will it take

For those harming

The little ones

The children

To awaken

To the gravity

Of their own plight?

 

You are being watched

Your actions are being noted.

Will it be a vision

Of a millstone

Necklace being

Crafted for you?

Or

Will it be a later cry

“Lord, when did I see

You as a child

Being torn

From your parents?

The answer,

“What you did

To the least of these

You did to Me.”

 

Speak up!

Lift your voices

All mothers

Fathers

Grandparents

Send your help,

Else who will listen

When someone comes

For your children

Or grandchildren?

 

© 2018 Julie Clark

 

Categories: children, Faith, God, lament, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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