Life

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

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

Reduction

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Reduction

Simmering on a back burner

Evaporating

Diminishing 

To concentrate flavor

And thicken the broth or sauce

Aging, chronic illness, plus the pandemic

Reducing me

Refining is painful

Simmering on the back burner is no fun

Pruning makes me sore

Yet

Hopeful to become

More truly who I am

A thicker, more flavorful me

Let it continue

Grow and stretch

Let the trials 

The isolation

Turn me into

A highly concentrated glaze 

A viscous

Honey or roux

Categories: growth, Hope, Life, pain, pandemic, Poetry | 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

Is It Just Me?

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Now that Spring is around the corner

I’m not sure after all the longing for it

That I am ready to come out of my den

To feel the warmth of the sun

Which will become overwhelming soon enough

Or meet my neighbors again

After endless days indoors behind

Screens and masks, six feet apart

To greet, to smile, to chat in a cafe

The energy it will take to come up with

Lively conversation, to make that first step

To toss my masks on a heap

I have become surprisingly attached to them

All the questions I will have in my head

Are they safe? Did they get their second dose?

Who did they vote for anyways?

Do the bears, snakes, bats and other hibernating animals feel this way? 

Do they tentatively step or slither out of their comfortable holes and caves

Or do they rush out without a care driven by hunger and excitement?

Categories: Lent, Life, pandemic, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

Good-bye 2020

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May this new year

Show the fruit of what we have learned

from the troubles and sorrows of the passing year

How we need each other

Always have, but somehow

Lost sight of our connection

To each other

To our earth home

To our heaven coming down home

May the fire 

The flood

The hurricane force winds

The pandemic

Be used 

To strengthen and straighten the bent and broken

Places in our hearts 

To repair and renew 

The moral compass

of all, including

The powers that rule

The powers that have crushed

The powers arising

Replacing the old

Bringing the new

Until, until

“The kingdom of this world 

becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” *

How long 

How long

How we long for that day

© 2020 Julie Clark

(*Revelations 11:15)

Categories: Faith, growth, Hope, Life, pandemic, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arrested by Beauty

Arrested by Beauty

Stopped in my tracks to notice

My senses alive 

To see, to listen, to smell, to touch, to taste

These gifts all around

I am taking beauty personally today

As my beloved and I slowly walk this town

The bald eagle shows off his mighty wing span

The chickadees flitting from one tree to another

With their happy chirps

The autumn leaves in full display calling out:

“Look at me, look at me!”

I brush my fingers through the fragrant lavender

I breathe in the fresh sea air and let the sound

Of waves wash over me

Later the taste of fish tacos caps off our walk

This walking, this paying attention

Calms me, refreshes my spirit, 

Brings me home to my body

Today I am alive, happy and grateful

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Birds, Life, Photography, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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

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