Faith

Palm Branches

Here is a reflection poem on Palm Sunday.

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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

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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

Smuggling Hope

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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

Pilgrims Get Weary

On the move again

Grateful for this place

All the beautiful places we have been

Still, it is hard to pick up and leave again

New destination is set

A beautiful part of the state

Awaits exploration

Yet, I am tired

I’m no spring chicken

Packing up and cleaning up

Take a lot of energy

Asking for courage

To take a new unknown path

Ready for whatever lies ahead

May I not waste my small sufferings

On self pity

Praying helps

Remembering those

Forced to flee their homes

Those who have no houses

No place to lay their heads

Instead of self pity 

I choose gratitude and hope

I will be open 

To hear and to see 

The beauty

The messages

The lessons waiting for me

Around the corner

Just ahead

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Faith, growth, Hope, Poetry, Prayer, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Follow the Thread

Follow the thread of love

It will lead you home

When darkness, evil, fog or fear

Obscure your vision

Wait until you see it again

Don’t move until you do

It will break through

It always does

Move towards it now

And learn to let it

Pass through you

Change and transform you

It takes time

But if you do

It will spread out behind you

Like a trail or a path

Or rays of light

And others will find

Their way home too

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, growth, Love, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Shelter

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It is a shelter


To be known and loved


When you are welcome


No matter your faults and foibles


You are loved


A part of the family


The community


You matter


You are connected to these people


We are meant to learn to love


In families


In clans and tribes


But not always the case


In our fragmented society


So we must build bridges


Connections with other human beings


We are connected


With each other after all


Through our ancestors


Our Creator


We all live together on this earth


Our survival and ability to thrive


Depends on it


So smile


Speak a kind word


Bridge the gap


You will see


You will feel


Those connections


Thr knitting of the hearts


Lend a hand


Take a hand

Understand and learn


From each other


Forgive and be forgiven 

Start fresh 

Believe the best

Be your best


We can do this together


Love is real

Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Love, Marriage and Family, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ramadan in Memory and Imagination

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In Memory 

I call a few friends

Who used to live in China 

To ask about Ramadan

What foods they shared

For Iftar

And what it meant

It was nutritious and delicious

Huge meals of soup, 

rich and meaty main dishes and

Fresh and dried fruits and nuts

It meant

Love and connection

Solidarity 

With family, friends and neighbors

I find it painful to ask

And painful for them to remember

Since they have left their homeland

Since the lockdown

Since the genocide of their people

They haven’t heard news

Of their families

For too long

They have not heard 

Their voices or their laughter

Or words of hope

That this will end

And life could be normal

And they could celebrate

Ramadan again

With love and connection

Solidarity

With family, friends and neighbors

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In Imagination

(When I lived in a city called Gulja, I remember hearing mothers calling their children to come home. They would sing their names out the doorways or open windows. The children would start making their way home when they heard their names.)

If only I could hear her voice again. She called me from the window, singing my name down the street. The sun had set. I knew it was time to come home and eat the delicious meal she prepared every night for us. I would skip home throwing open the door to find her in her apron serving the food to my father and brother.  She would nudge me to the sink to wash my hands. My father would tussle my hair, my brother would give me a playful punch. We would eat our meal together, savoring the flavors and the love we had for each other. 

In my dreams I hear her calling, singing my name down the street.  I can never find my way home. There is always an ocean to cross or a gate I can’t get through or soldiers blocking my way.

Categories: borderlands, Faith, Hospitality, lament, Love, pain, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Blessing for Open Eyes

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Open our eyes to see

What is happening in our world

To see with eyes that care

About the suffering of others

To see the connections

And understand

Why these things are happening today

Give us insight

And vision 

To see solutions beginning

Small and thin

That lengthen and thicken

Into strong ropes

Strong arms

To lift 

To carry 

To free

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Lent, Life, Love, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Flag

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For all those

Waving a Jesus flag

Big shoes to fill

Big steps to follow

Better get started

Developing love

Self-sacrificing love

Takes a lifetime

Posers will be revealed

Examine our hearts

Whose path am I on?

No idols here

No judgements either

Fruit will reveal

Better than a flag

Who I serve

Who I truly love

© 2021 Julie Clark

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Categories: Faith, God, Love, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Change

Let us

Search for the light

Like wise persons

Follow it

Come out of the blinding

Darkness

Shake it off

Shake ourselves awake

And free

Let love

Come down

Melt the hardness

In our hearts

Let the tears

Flow

Do their work

Break us open

Just as the rain

Finds a way

Through the earth’s 

Hardened crust

Look up

Rise up 

Follow the light

Our paths

Need examining

Need pondering

Where am I headed?

Who am I?

Who am I becoming?

Is this who I want to be?

Is this path leading to life?

Leading to light?

Leading to love?

If not

Step off

We can change our course

We can grow

We can choose

We still have breath

We are still alive

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, growth, Hope, Life, Love, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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