grief and death

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

This War

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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

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

Breathe

(This poem written in this intersection of time where people are dying from Covid 19 and dying from police brutality. They can’t breathe.)

Breathe deep

When we can

Because we can.

Remember where our breath comes from

Give thanks.

Remember those

Who cannot breathe.

Remember those

Whose breath has been taken.

Take action

When we can

Because we can.

Categories: Faith, grief and death, lament, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , | Leave a comment

What ifs

What if we can’t go to church

To understand what the church really is?

What if the virus is showing us

The viruses in our hearts?

What if the worship of mammon*

Was just too much for the earth to bear?

What if our independence

Drives us to community?

What if all the grief and loss

Teaches us to love again?

*Matthew 6:24

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, grief and death, Hope, Lent, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

China Bans Religous Funerals

by Dr. Bill Clark

(My anthropoligist husband wrote this article about what we experienced in China in the late 1980’s when we lost our baby boy in a late miscarriage. Now China is depriving it’s Muslim and Christian citizens of the right of religous funerals . Now throughout the world we are all experiencing a disruptions in our funeral practices not for political or religious reasons but because of Covid19 pandemic.)

A recent article, Christians Not Allowed to Hold Religious Funerals, came out on Jan 23 in the online Bitter Winter e-zine.  https://bitterwinter.org/christians-not-allowed-to-hold-religious-funerals/

It brought up memories of the funeral of our son David in Guldja (Ili), Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in NW China (XUAR) My wife, Julie was 5 months pregnant in early Nov 1988 when she had a late miscarraige. We named the baby boy David. We had become friendly with the Russian family who were the caretakers for the Christian graveyard. (photo) We wanted a graveside religious ceremony for the baby and went to the college’s foreign affairs officer for permission. Mr. Guan, from the Xibo minority group and a Russian speaker, knew of a Russian priest still in the area, and was willing to introduce us. We did not speak Russian. Julie and I had previously bonded/interned with a Chinese Church in Taiwan and wanted a Chinese speaking pastor for the ceremony. We even had an address. After an initial delay Mr Guan agreed to take us to the pastor’s home and called the school’s driver to come pick us up. Pastor Lin, 80 something, was a seminary graduate from Lanzhou, and in very poor health. Brother Wu was visiting Pastor Lin and his family at that exact time and, when he learned about our need, volunteered to perform the ceremonies. He was taking over many of Pastor Lin’s duties as a young lay leader in the unregistered church. We made plans to meet at the graveyard early the next afternoon.

At Ili Teacher’s College we were under strict guidelines to not attend any of the Han Christian services that met periodically in the city. I still remember the earlier stern talk from Mr Guan ( the wai ban) telling me that if  I attended one of the services, the school would shortly thereafter escort me and my family to the border. Instead of going to the border (the USSR was only 64 kilometers away!) we were now headed to the home of a Christian pastor of an unregistered church. 

We were so surprised the next day to find that Brother Wu had brought over a dozen church members to join us. We gathered around the gravesite and they joined in our grief for losing our son. Those tears are beyond price and went a long way in opening pathways of healing for Julie and I.

In light of the recent regulations banning Muslim and Christian funeral ceremonies, I am reflecting on the basic humanity of Mr Guan and the Communist Party officials at our school. They were decent and allowed us to grieve our child in the way that was most meaningful to us. In Uyghur and Kazakh society and now, increasingly, among Chinese Christians throughout China, that decency is being taken away. 

In Xinjiang since the concentration camp era began in earnest in 2017, all aspects of Islamic religious ceremonies, including funerals, have disappeared from public life. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/asia/china-uighur-muslim-detention-camp.html)

Julie and I remember the comfort of prayer and ritual around that gravesite on a cold windy November afternoon. That comfort has been taken from Muslim and Christian families in China. It is not right for a government to deprive the comfort and healing of religious rituals in a time of death.  . 

Categories: borderlands, Faith, grief and death | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Locked In and Locked Out

door green closed lock

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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

The Mysteries

birds flying over body of water during golden hour

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The mysteries

Of all we do not know

They are more than

The riches some heap

While others go without

They are more than

The wars against body and soul

The what ifs and the whys

The pit of sorrows we fall into

The crushing weight of grief

 

The mysteries

Of all we do not know

The greatest is love

That holds us when all is gone

That leads us to treasure

At the end of a dark tunnel

It runs through us and to us

Lifting us and helping us

To breathe and to live

And one day hope again

 

© 2019 Julie Clark

 

Categories: grief and death, Hope, Love, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Grief Haiku (for Marianne)

Marianne helping me with a knotty problem.

(Marianne helping me with a knotty problem)

 

She has gone away

Released her breath and spirit

We have grief and tears

 

Lonely is this life

Soul trapped in body shell

Freed for true union

 

She carried many

Can too much love break your heart

Apparently so

 

© 2018 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Autumn Poems, grief and death, Life, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting for Easter

I am posting this poem again from a few years ago.  A reminder that no matter how dark it is or how much faith I have or don’t have, light will break through and love will win. 

All we have are words

And the grief that overwhelms us

Hope is gone

We saw with our own eyes

Our grief tells us

He is dead

Yet

We have words

We will wait

With our grief by the tomb

© Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, grief and death, Holy Saturday, Hope, Lent, Life, Love, pain, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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