Hospitality

Do the Hard Work

Do the hard work

Take the time to listen

To another

With a different voice

A different belief

A different color of skin

A different culture

A different story

Take the time to learn

Find your new teachers

You won’t be disappointed

You will be enlarged

You will expand

You will grow

You will receive

A true gift

© 2019 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, growth, Hospitality, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Two Small Coins

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(This is another lament – #2.  These are not meant to shame anyone, but to help me and anyone else who is struggling with how to pray and how to respond to the challenges we face in the world we live in.)

We watched from our screens

The worlds unfolding tragedies

Lord have mercy

Cities crumbling and unlivable,

Ruined,

Lord have mercy

 

We saw men, women, children, the elderly

Fleeing with little or nothing

On foot, in trucks

Later in unstable overcrowded boats

Looking for help, looking for hope

Lord have mercy

 

Some came to meet them

To feed them and clothe them

To help them

Thanks be to God

Some opened their wallets and gave

What they could

Thanks be to God

 

Others of us felt hopeless

What could we do?

We looked at our two small coins*

And put them back in our pocket

Lord have mercy and forgive us

 

Every day more tragedies unfold

On our flashing screens

Lord have mercy

Every day

Lonely people walk across our paths

Some hungry and homeless

Others in need of a friend

Lord have mercy and forgive us

 

Forgive us God for when we do nothing

Oh Lord let our hearts be open

Show us what we can do

Let not fear keep us from love

Show us how we can love

Let love grow in our hearts

To overcome fear

Show us what we can do

Let us take the two small coins*

Out again and find a way

To use what we have

To help our neighbors in need

Thanks be to God

 

*Luke 21:1-4

 

Categories: Advent, borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, lament, Love, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strangers, Foreigners, Refugees

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Why welcome the stranger?

Are you afraid you don’t have enough

Resources for yourself?

Your family?

Your nation?

Not enough jobs?

Did you forget the story?

How did two fish and five loaves

Become enough to feed thousands?

 

They would have stayed 2 + 5,

If they were not given up and over

To the One

Who holds it all together

Who taught us the new math

Of sowing and reaping

Of trusting and love.

 

We need reminding

In these times of distress

Times of anxiety:

When we hold our fists

Closed tightly around our resources,

Our love, our humanity

It all turns to dust.

 

When we open our hands:

The Holy Wind blows

The seeds to good soil

Landing, planting, producing.

Holding fists tightly

Stops the river of blessing

Coming our way.

 

The stranger show us

The face of God

In a way we do not know.

Our dimensions become wider

New concepts expand our minds

Love expands our hearts.

We become more fully human

More like the One who formed us

And gave us all that we are

All that we have.

© Julie Clark 2017

 

Categories: Faith, growth, Hospitality, Life, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Shameless Audacity

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Shameless audacity

Just go ahead and ask

You will not regret it

Pour out your words

Coming straight from your heart

What do you need?

What do you want?

Who are you carrying

Close in your thoughts?

Bring it all up

Bring it all out

Pray –

What will it hurt?

You will be welcomed

You will be heard

In this place

Where heaven meets earth

Connection becomes communion

Ask, seek, knock

Believe and receive

The Spirit is yours

 

© 2017 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Lent, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not Brave Enough Yet

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Yesterday I was hit by a cloud of grief that soaked me as I watched Barack and Michelle Obama wave good-bye.  I could only watch for a couple of minutes and then just had to sit with my grief. As my thoughts went to the bravery of the women who would be participating today in the Marches across the nation, I felt afraid and vulnerable.  I, at this point, am not physically strong enough or emotionally brave enough to march. I want to hide. I don’t want to stand out. I am one of those faceless, nameless women (no longer) who have been molested and groped. As many others before me have done, I am choosing to move into the light rather than hide in the shadows. This new president has made it very clear he is not on my side. Thank you to all the women who are able to step out and make a stand today.

 

I’m a complicated person, in process, aren’t we all? I have lived overseas for over 20 years of my adult life. I know what it feels like to live as a foreigner, an outsider, one who does not understand all the languages and cultures swirling around me.  I was sent by evangelical churches and people to love people with very different cultures and languages. That is why I am grieved by so many from this demographic who are now calling for isolationism and nationalism. Are they giving into fear and self interest rather than being ruled by love?  They seem to be listening to another voice other than the One they claim to be following.

 

I count it a privilege to have many Muslim friends who are very dear to me, some even call me Mom. I grew up among Hispanics in East Los Angeles and am honored to have a precious daughter-in-law, whose first language is Spanish.  I am also very proud to have a Vietnamese son-in-law. From all of these groups I learned more about family and community.  I have learned about hospitality, kindness to strangers and a deep respect for the elderly.  I am enriched by my international family and friends. We are deprived when we cut ourselves off from the richness of other cultures.

 

Through listening to the stories of our friends, my anthropologist husband and I are trying to understand what it’s like to be on the margins in our own country. We are part of an organization (Peace Catalyst International) that builds bridges, not walls.

 

Today I am feeling stronger.  After listening to some of the inauguration speech by the new President, I want to say I’m sticking with the words of Jesus over his.  Jesus said if you want to be great, then be the servant of all and he showed us how to do that by laying down his life.  He said the first will be last and the last will be first.  So this “America First” statement strikes me as really dangerous. Self interest never leads to love. I’m sticking with “the greatest of these is love”.

 

 

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, growth, Hope, Hospitality, Love, pain, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Something New

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(This poem is dedicated to the Arts Team at the Seattle Vineyard)

Learning

something new today

Thank you

for inviting

prodding

just a little

to get me started

to whet my appetite

that perhaps

I could

create something

beautiful

with my hands

with the help of

paint and canvas

paper and scissors

 

You could have

kept your talents hidden

or only allowed

the professionals

to join the fun

instead you threw the doors

open and

invited us all in

to join

the joy

of creating something

beautiful

 

I think

there are many

budding artists, singers

musicians, writers

etc.

out there that only

need the nudge of

encouragement

and invitation

to get started

on opening up

new streams

of joy in

their lives.

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, growth, Hospitality, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Little Child Will Lead You

This poem is dedicated to a little girl, (8 years old) my friends’ daughter, who befriended another little girl, a Muslim child in her class and invited her over to play and have dinner.  Another morning her parents found her boiling an egg to take to school. Her friend was embarrassed about her lunch being so different from everyone else’s lunch. My friends’ little girl noticed she had a boiled egg in her lunch. She decided to boil herself an egg, so her friend would not be embarrassed.  She brings me great encouragement. Peacemakers are being raised up quietly right in our midst. She gets my first chocolate bar.

https://backfromtheborderlands.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/lets-trump-evil-with-good-and-win-a-big-chocolate-bar/

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When darkness gathers as winter settles in

with black clouds surrounding

what little light we have left

Hold tight to the hope in your heart

It is buried deep within

 

Faith, Hope and Love

will not be extinguished

…and the greatest of these is love

It is love which is the greatest

and most powerful of all

not fear, nor revenge, anger or hate

 

Let love ruminate and perfect

through the night, through adverse circumstances

because joy will come in the morning

and when it seems utterly impossible

…let a little child lead you.

 

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Trump Evil with Good and Win a Big Chocolate Bar!

 

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Let’s Trump Evil with Good and Win a Big Chocolate Bar!

 

Here is how to do it.  I have 5 big bars of Trader Joe’s Chocolate for the first 5 people who invite a Muslim friend, co-worker, or neighbor to dinner.  I ask that you simply invite them, cook a simple Halal meal, which could be vegetarian if you don’t have access to Halal meat.  Now ask your guests questions about their life and listen.  Please just listen and learn some things you’ve never known before.  This is how we make friends, how we make peace and defuse the crazy phobias flying around these days.  The first 5 people that get back to me with their address (US only please) and a simple description of their time I will send a 1 pound chocolate bar. I suspect you will receive an invitation in return and make a life long friend.  I hope this is true. How about taking this challenge?  Especially if you have never done this before.  

 

Let us be world changers together and truly “Love our neighbors as ourselves”. “Doing unto others what we would like them to do to us”, takes some thought.  What would it be like to be a Muslim in our country right now?  How could I do something to help ease their fears and anxiety?  What if I was in a foreign country where words were flying across the airwaves and threats being made about people of my faith? A simple invitation of hospitality might be a start.  May God bless you!  I hope to hear from you soon!

 

Categories: Advent, borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Love, Peace and Reconciliation | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In This World…

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I came across this fitting poem by Wendell Berry in “Farming, A Hand Book”. It reminds me that this generation is not the only one that has seen the world on fire.  I read it to our guests at our Thanksgiving table.  We had a beautiful, but small representation of our world with Central Asians, Libyans and Americans, Muslims and Christians breaking bread together and giving thanks. The phrase “In this World” comes from the New Testament.  Jesus to his disciples:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Here is the poem.

 

The hill pasture, an open place among the trees,

tilts into the valley. The clovers and tall grasses

are in bloom. Along the foot of the hill

dark floodwater moves down the river.

The sun sets. Ahead of the nightfall the birds sing.

I have climbed up to water the horses

and now sit and rest, high on the hillside,

letting the day gather and pass. Below me

cattle graze out across the wide fields of the bottomlands,

slow and preoccupied as stars. In this world

men are making plans, wearing themselves out,

spending their lives, in order to kill each other.

 

Wendell Berry

 

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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