God

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

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

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

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

Counting

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(This was a prayer/thought I had Saturday morning before we heard the results of our recent presidential election.)

Are you counting?

Like the votes are being counted 

One by one, day after day?

Are you counting

My every thought

Every move

Every deed

Weighing on scales?

No, not counting

Loving

Pouring it out

Day after day

The love that covers

Every mistake

Wayward thought

Angry word

Unkind action

Hateful look

The self-pity

Self focus

The pride

All of it

Again and again

Until it is covered

Until I learn mercy

And do the same

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: Autumn Poems, Faith, God, growth, Hope, Love, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Raven

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Flew to the tip of the garage

Standing there now

In front of us

Outside our window

Your message from the One who loves:

I am here

Standing guard

Leading you

In this work

In this way

Pay attention

Step by step

Look for me

You will find me

When you search

With all your heart

I am for you

I am renewing the earth

And it’s peoples

Don’t be afraid

I am with you

I see you

Even when you

Cannot see me

Look for me

Pay attention

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

Who is Waiting for Who

(I came to faith in the 1970’s with the Jesus People, we were sure Jesus was coming back – soon!)

I moan

I groan

I lament

Waiting for you to come

Hoping for you to intervene

To silence evil

To stop oppression

To hear the cry of the poor and needy

When will you 

Remove the evil rulers

When will you come in the clouds

Set things right 

Set up your throne

I long for that day

I long to see your face

In the silence

I hear your invitation

Your call 

To join your work

To speak for the voiceless

To speak and live truth

To feed the hungry

To listen to the oppressed

To push back

Evil, oppression, racism, greed, violence

In my prayers, in my words, in my actions

I realize

I am not the only one waiting

You are waiting for us

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, lament, Life, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Am I Hoarding Jesus?

 

When I was a young person coming back to faith in Jesus in the mid 70’s I was taught I had the answers to the questions of life. My experience as I traversed different parts of the world and met different kinds of people that this was not all together true. Yes, my young life had changed as I made following and learning about Jesus a priority, but I had a lot to learn from the people I met. Yes, I could offer prayers and encouragement from my perspective and I did see people encouraged, and even recovered from sickness. Yet, I learned to be quick to listen, slow to speak. Well, I had to be, because I was learning a new language! One of the many gifts of learning a new language. I also was learning and seeing beautiful things in the culture and people around me that I had not learned in my own culture. I learned to look for what good things God was already doing in a person’s life and in their culture. I learned to affirm those good things. Of course every culture has it’s light side and dark side, including my own. Now as I look back on those early years I think it was arrogant and naive to believe I had all the answers. Is it possible that Christians are hoarding Jesus? Saying and teaching that the way I interpret his life and teaching is the only way seems a bit narrow and exclusive.  As if I know all the mysteries of Christ who died for the sin of the world, the very same who is reconciling all things, all people, all creation to himself. I do believe those points. I just don’t pretend to know what they mean exactly or how it will happen.

Here in the form of a poem are some reflections from Mark 9:38 – 41 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me…”

Here, the path is wide

The door flung open

Us and them dismantled 

Here, we celebrate 

Our commonality – our humanity

See the goodness in each other 

Here, the hoarding of Jesus

Is not allowed

Trust the outcome 

To the one true judge

Of all motives, all character

Here we love and respect

We build up and affirm

The God given love

In one another

© Julie Clark 2020

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, growth, Love, Paths, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Blessing for those Waiting for Justice and Deliverance

A Blessing for those Waiting for Justice and Deliverance

(for those imprisoned in NW China)

In this waiting

Which feels so long, too long

When despair nags at our heels

Bless us with hope, 

Bless us with prayers to pray

With names of precious people we know

And do not know

Names and faces of captives and prisoners

We can hold before you

And honor them and honor you, their creator

Bless the space, the time

Between now and their deliverance

May they know your presence,

Your love, your goodness

May they know you hear

The cry of the afflicted

Even if the cry comes 

Silently from their hearts

Bless them with 

Lifting the heavy burden

With healing their 

Broken bodies

Their broken hearts

Lift their heads

Lift their hearts

To hope, to wait, to know

You are coming

and have not

forgotten them

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, lament, pain, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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