Travel

Recovering

The other day I was recovering from a cold. I was not feeling very energetic so I lay down for a while on the couch to read. An old companion of mine entered the room and started making his presence known. Actually, it was a feeling.  It was the feeling of not doing enough, not being productive enough, not really having my life together enough, like I should have. For heaven sakes Julie, what do you do? The last few years I’ve spent a fair amount of time getting rid of this “old buddy”, but here he shows up again.

I think about the years I spent living in Central Asia. Many of my early years there I was nagged by the feeling that I wasn’t doing enough.  I should get out there more, meet more people, have more people over for dinner, and learn language better. I had an unending list of shoulds. Now I am learning I was not meant to do the shoulds but be me, right there, right then.  Be the person I was. Love and care for people the way I could.  Love and care for my family.  Words were a small part, living and loving the bigger part. I think about the gifts I received, in the form of what I learned from living among a people different from me.  I learned so much! Not by being told how to do something, but by the example of my friend’s lives. They just did the things that were normal to them and what were normal to them became important things for me to learn.  Here are some examples. I learned the important place that elders have in society. They are honored, taken care of, and listened to.  I learned how to speak blessings over people.  That’s what they do, all the time. I was blessed when I came in and when I went out. I was blessed when I was met on the street. I was taught how to treat guests with great honor because the guest was bringing great honor to me by visiting. These and many more were gifts to me.  They are gifts that have become a part of my life.  I treasure them and I treasure these friends who taught me.  I wonder if there were things about me, gifts that I left with my friends in this the same way.  I have an inkling of what they might be, but I don’t really know. What really matters now is for me to continue to be the person I am.  I am growing in paying attention to the day at hand and the opportunities that come to do good in each day. In doing that I have gifts to share with others just as I have gifts to receive from others. I enjoy life so much more when I live this way.

Categories: borderlands, Faith, Hospitality, Life, Love, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Omaha

The Omaha winter

Stretches its fingers

Into the fall

With crisp blasts of air

It’s a warning

To prepare

“Don’t take me lightly!”

She says

“I am just around the corner.”

The swirling colors

Of the trees

Take their time

To reply

“OK, OK,

We’re leaving

We’re leaving.”

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A Few Days in Omaha

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Greetings In China

For many years my family and I lived in China.  Even though I had the basics of the Chinese language, there were so many things to learn each day, not only about the language but also the customs and culture of the Peoples around me.  We were fortunate to live in an area where there were several ethnic groups. This made for lots of diverse and rich experiences.

Everyday when I would step out of my apartment building I would be greeted by different people in different ways.  In Chinese language school we had learned that “Ni hao” was the traditional greeting.  The only thing was that it was usually I who would say that, but the locals would say something different, such as “Have you eaten enough?” or “Going to the market are you?” or “Where are you going?” or “Where are you coming from?” It took me awhile to figure it out but, I think stating the obvious or asking an obvious question was the greeting. One year we came back from America after the birth of our little baby girl. Each day when I stepped out I would hear over and over again:  “Oh, your baby isn’t wearing enough clothes!”  So the next day I would try to bundle her up a bit more.  It didn’t seem to matter because I would hear the same thing every day, especially from the Grannies.  It wasn’t until a particularly warm, sunny, early spring day that it dawned on me.  I was sure I had her bundled up enough and I knew a little sunshine would be good for her, so I wasn’t prepared for the usual: “Your baby isn’t wearing enough clothes!”  In fact I kind of lost it! “What do you mean she isn’t wearing enough clothes??? Look how sunny and warm it is, and I have her all bundled up anyways!”  When I saw the confused stare on this particular Granny’s face, then I realized she was just saying “good morning” to me.  So after that experience I would calmly remind myself when ever I heard that particular phrase that they were just saying hi!

This was right around the same time that I noticed my 4-year-old son had his own particular greeting.  He and his friends were playing out in front of our apartment.  The young girl who helped me make lunch called me over to the window and pointed.  It was the time of day when the teachers came back to their homes for lunch.  Many of them had stacks of hot naan in their arms.  My son was putting his hand out and my generous neighbors walking by were pulling off pieces of naan and giving it to him!

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A Mattress on the Floor

A mattress on the floor

Will do for a while

It opens up the world

For life and adventure

I would miss

If I insisted on sleeping

Only in my own room

With my elevated

Queen size mattress

Off the floor

 

I would have missed

So much bustle and activity

Being available

To hold a new-born baby

Colors bursting forth

In fabrics, faces and flowers

Handing out fresh bread and water

To the hungry and the thirsty

 

Yet, I am starting to miss

That elevation

And the tranquility

Of familiarity

Discerning the times and seasons

Is important now

Before I wear too thin

And have little to give

I believe it is time to move

Back off the floor

 

© 2012 Julie Clark

 

 

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Censored

I am just now able to get on my blog.  WordPress is blocked here in this Asian Country.  A friend of mine told me how to get around the block.  At first I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working.  Was there something wrong with my Internet, or a glitch at WordPress?  Then my host told me:

“You can’t get on WordPress.  The government has blocked it.”

I was shocked. “Really? Why?” I asked.

“Because someone from the opposition party is using it.”

 

The government has blocked all of our WordPress blogs because someone from the opposition party uses it.  Crazy.  My little blog searching for beauty and messages in everyday life got swept up in this censorship.  My voice is silenced with countless others.  I know it is just a little thing, and I finally have found the way around it, but I had a little taste of what it is like to be silenced.  It didn’t feel good.  It made me mad.  Then it made me think of how many voices have been silenced. Images of heavy boots crushing wild flowers beneath them come to mind.  As the army passes, most of the flowers slowly spring back to life. Not all, some are too delicate and their stems are broken. The sound of traffic drowns out and silences the bird song. Yet, in the early morning before people start moving we are awakened to the chorus.

 

What is beautiful, what is good, what is lovely and sweet will endure.  It will lift up it’s head again and be seen and heard.  The voices that cannot yet be heard need others to step in for them, until they can find the strength to sing again. There are many who need this kind of advocacy. Who will be their voice?

Categories: beauty, borderlands, Life, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Nervous in Pune

 

Only three things have been making me nervous here in Pune: the traffic, the dogs, and my son’s pressure cooker.  My son has told me that the dogs, all though mangy, are fine.

 

“It’s live and let live here mom, don’t bother them and they won’t bother you.”

“Ok son, but what about this one that keeps jumping on me that is supposed to be guarding your apartment?”

 

“Oh, he’s just friendly, give him a knee and he will stop.”

 

I guess he got the message with my knee once so he has stopped jumping on me.  So the dog nerves are subsiding.  The traffic?  I find it best on my nerves to close my eyes from the back seat and think of flowing rivers.  Of course praying mostly under my breath helps too:  “mumble, mumble, mumble, GOD HAVE MERCY! Mumble, mumble, mumble, LORD HELP US ALL! Mumble, mumble, mumble.”  I think those nerves are subsiding as well, except I had a relapse last night when he was trying to use his CELL PHONE while zigging and zagging.  Admittedly, I haven’t seen any accidents just a lot of weaving, stopping and starting.  Also a whole lot of horn honking. Perhaps what looks like near misses to me are just the normal ebbs and flows of traffic around here?

 

There are reasons I have never owned a pressure cooker.  I think my mom had a run in with one and never would have one in the house.  I know it is great for getting tough meat nice and tender, and cooking rice or beans really quick. It’s just that little bit of letting off steam that really gets me unexpectedly.  My son calls those whistles.  It would be nice if it would actually whistle a gentle tune, not that sudden high-pitched, nerve wrecking screech. My usual response after the initial jolt is to head for the kitchen door and wait for the “whistle” to subside. I am getting more used to it now since I made a nice dhal all on my own the other day.

 

My darling grandson is gaining weight and getting settled into his baby routines.  His Mama is healing well.  We just heard our visas for Kazakhstan are on their way.  We may even make our original flight on Sunday.

 

 


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Photos of the Day

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Or that one?

Or that one?

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Open Doors

Open Doors

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