God

Questions I Have

What is this division you bring?

What about peace on earth, goodwill towards all?

Is it about our choice?

To love and serve

Or horde and kill?

Do you come to us at our borders in T-shirts and flip flops

Or camped out in our city parks?

One more opportunity to choose

As you ask, “Who will you serve?

Me or mammon?”

Ok, I choose you.

Now I have enemies.

What did you say about enemies?

I have to love them too?

Now that is hard to do.

Oh, you did that.

I see.  Is that how this works?

Love changes everything.

Love is the force that brings peace

Far and near and finally

Everywhere.

How long?

“Until all is changed and all submit

To love

Singing praises!”

Your ways are better

Your ways are higher

Than ours.

What is impossible for humans

Is possible for you.

Now we must 

Get up on the highway

Of your ways

Watch and see

What you can do with love-

The strongest force there is

Moving mountains and

Raising valleys.

May we make the choice

To love

Rather than continue

This madness.

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Love, mountains, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 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

Locked In and Locked Out

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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

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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

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

Lament for the Earth

forest fire smoke burning

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God we ask for your mercy and help.

 

We have filled the waters of the earth with poison and pollution.

We have harmed people, animals, fish and plants with this water.

We have continued to fill the waters with chemicals, plastics and garbage even when we know this is harmful.

 

God have mercy on us and forgive us.

Help us to care for these precious waters that sustain us.

 

We have poisoned and polluted the land.

We have destroyed forests and fields.

Our foods are no longer rich in nutrients.

We continue to harm people, animals and plants with our poisons and pollution.

 

God have mercy on us and forgive us.

Help us to care for the land that sustains us.

 

We have poisoned and polluted the air.

We continue to burn fossil  fuels that are heating our atmosphere.

We are harming people, animals and plants with these poisons and pollution.

We know this, yet we continue to burn and pollute our air.

 

God have mercy on us and forgive us.

Help us to care for the air that sustains us.

 

The earth is suffering and groaning

With floods and fires.

Glaciers are melting and forests are disappearing

While deserts are increasing.

 

Oh God forgive us!

 

We have done this to the beautiful earth you created, filled with living creatures that we are harming, including ourselves.

We have ignored the warnings and

We have not acted when we realized long ago we were culpable.

 

God we ask you to help us do what is right.

Help us to care for our planet and all who inhabit it.

 

Even now, if you do not help us it will be too late.

We put our hope in you. Help us and sustain us.

 

God have mercy on us! Amen

 

for a better understanding of what is happening to our planet read this extensive article in the New York Times Magazine:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losing-earth.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fmagazine&action=click&contentCollection=magazine&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront

 

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

What Will It Take

silhouette of boy standing near barbed wire fence during golden hour

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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

Ramadan, The Perfect Time to Meet Your Muslim Neighbors

We are in the midst of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims. It is the 9th month in the Muslim Lunar calendar. This is when all able-bodied Muslims will fast from food, drink and other physical needs from sunrise to sunset. It is a time of prayer and purification to become closer to God. The Arabic word for God is Allah. Ramadan marks when the first chapters of the Quran were given to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan is the 4th of 5 Pillars of Islam.  These Pillars define what it means to be a Muslim. Here is a list of the 5 Pillars:

  1. Shahada: faith in the Islam religion,
  2. Salat: pray five times per day facing the direction of Mecca,
  3. Zakat: give support to the needy,
  4. Sawm: fast during Ramadan, and
  5. Hajj: make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during one’s lifetime.

The season of Ramadan is a season of joy and celebration.  It is also a season of generosity and kindness. Although the fasting can be difficult the month is punctuated with celebratory meals after the sun goes down. These are called iftars. They are often celebrated together with families and friends, as well as community events. This is a great opportunity to join an iftar and meet your neighbors.  My husband and I have several days marked on our calendars to join an iftar. Some of these are interfaith events, hosted by a community of Muslims. Some churches are also getting involved and hosting iftars for their Muslim friends and neighbors. This can be a time to build friendships and understanding. Why not check with your local mosque and see if there are any such gatherings that you could join?  Or ask a Muslim friend, co-worker or neighbor if you could join them for an iftar? Be prepared for some delicious food and warm hospitality. You may be eating and staying up later than what is normal for you, but the benefits of making or strengthening existing friendships is worth being a little sleepy the next day.

I have heard stories from some of my immigrant friends who grew up in the middle east how Christian, Muslim, and Jewish neighbors would make food for each other during their holidays. This would be a custom worth reviving in our multi-faith and diverse communities.  Maybe you will be inspired to host an iftar for your friends and neighbors. Just make sure you use halal meat or make a vegetarian meal. Costco carries halal meat as well as neighborhood halal stores. I have 2 in my neighborhood. This is one way to build love and peace in our world so desperately needing it.  One step at a time, right where we live.

 

Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ancient Words, Ancient Prayer

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“May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22

 

Ancient words, comforting words

Still bringing life

Over the long passages of time

Joining in the cry of the faithful

Or the desperate

Or both

Please be mindful of me

On this treacherous pilgrimage

On planet earth

My mind

Incapable of knowing

All the sinkholes

And swirling vortexes

Threatening to take me

Down and away

I will leave those to you

And keep my eyes focussed

On this path

One step at a time

You are my good shepherd

After all

 

© 2018 Julie Clark

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

What if beauty

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What if beauty

Is God’s shouts of joy over us?

What if the soft breezes on our cheeks

Are whispers of his love?

What if the crashing waves on the shore

Are displays of his passionate strength?

What if all of nature

Is but a part of an unending chorus of praise?

What if I stepped aside, stopped awhile,

Listened to these voices ringing out near and far?

How different would I be

In this world?

Would I do my part to care for and protect

These messengers?

Would I see their vital role

In the life of our planet?

Would I acknowledge the mystery of life woven together

both physically and spiritually?

Would I join the chorus

With my unique song of wonder and love?

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

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

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