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

While You Were Scrolling

While you were scrolling

Oh my soul

The clouds were piling

Up in the west

The leaves were falling

Silently around

The geese began their ascent

Forming their V above you

The sun hit the clouds 

In it’s descent

The light changed 

To a golden hue

Then became pink

Like the summer’s last rose

It lit the tree tops on fire

And the falling leaves

Turned to gold

The light hit your phone

And you looked up

Just in time to see

The geese overhead

The rosey light changing

Yet again

With the sun setting

Over the water

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Birds, Photography, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Falling

I.

It seems this year

More than ever

The fall colors are

Astounding me

They call me

To stop 

 Breathe deeper

Slower

Let my burdens fall

I drove up a winding road

Under a canopy 

Of fall foliage 

It felt like a giant hug

An invitation to joy

My heart rejoiced

II.

Walking in the woods today

The maple trees ablaze

Letting go 

Leaf by leaf

Fluttering and falling

To join the ever growing piles

Dampened by the rain 

That my tears

My sorrows 

My loss and grief 

One by one

Would softly fall away

Like the maple leaves

To Become mulchy piles

To feed proceeding generations

© Julie Clark 2021

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bird Calls

The birds call to me

In many different ways 

Distracting me with 

A flash of color

Wings spread for soaring

Or fluttering from tree to tree

A caw or a quack

Or the Golden Crowned Kinglet’s

High pitched chirp

They are so tiny

How did I miss them before

I was too busy

Going here and there

I forgot to pay attention

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Birds, growth, Poetry, Trees | Tags: | 1 Comment

Pilgrims Get Weary

On the move again

Grateful for this place

All the beautiful places we have been

Still, it is hard to pick up and leave again

New destination is set

A beautiful part of the state

Awaits exploration

Yet, I am tired

I’m no spring chicken

Packing up and cleaning up

Take a lot of energy

Asking for courage

To take a new unknown path

Ready for whatever lies ahead

May I not waste my small sufferings

On self pity

Praying helps

Remembering those

Forced to flee their homes

Those who have no houses

No place to lay their heads

Instead of self pity 

I choose gratitude and hope

I will be open 

To hear and to see 

The beauty

The messages

The lessons waiting for me

Around the corner

Just ahead

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Autumn Poems, beauty, Faith, growth, Hope, Poetry, Prayer, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Reflections

It is when the waters are still, we can see clearly the reflections.

Bill and I are taking a Sabbatical for a few months. We are slowing down, breathing deeper and paying attention. More thoughts to come….

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Follow the Thread

Follow the thread of love

It will lead you home

When darkness, evil, fog or fear

Obscure your vision

Wait until you see it again

Don’t move until you do

It will break through

It always does

Move towards it now

And learn to let it

Pass through you

Change and transform you

It takes time

But if you do

It will spread out behind you

Like a trail or a path

Or rays of light

And others will find

Their way home too

© 2021 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, growth, Love, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A Shelter

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It is a shelter


To be known and loved


When you are welcome


No matter your faults and foibles


You are loved


A part of the family


The community


You matter


You are connected to these people


We are meant to learn to love


In families


In clans and tribes


But not always the case


In our fragmented society


So we must build bridges


Connections with other human beings


We are connected


With each other after all


Through our ancestors


Our Creator


We all live together on this earth


Our survival and ability to thrive


Depends on it


So smile


Speak a kind word


Bridge the gap


You will see


You will feel


Those connections


Thr knitting of the hearts


Lend a hand


Take a hand

Understand and learn


From each other


Forgive and be forgiven 

Start fresh 

Believe the best

Be your best


We can do this together


Love is real

Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Love, Marriage and Family, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ramadan in Memory and Imagination

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In Memory 

I call a few friends

Who used to live in China 

To ask about Ramadan

What foods they shared

For Iftar

And what it meant

It was nutritious and delicious

Huge meals of soup, 

rich and meaty main dishes and

Fresh and dried fruits and nuts

It meant

Love and connection

Solidarity 

With family, friends and neighbors

I find it painful to ask

And painful for them to remember

Since they have left their homeland

Since the lockdown

Since the genocide of their people

They haven’t heard news

Of their families

For too long

They have not heard 

Their voices or their laughter

Or words of hope

That this will end

And life could be normal

And they could celebrate

Ramadan again

With love and connection

Solidarity

With family, friends and neighbors

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In Imagination

(When I lived in a city called Gulja, I remember hearing mothers calling their children to come home. They would sing their names out the doorways or open windows. The children would start making their way home when they heard their names.)

If only I could hear her voice again. She called me from the window, singing my name down the street. The sun had set. I knew it was time to come home and eat the delicious meal she prepared every night for us. I would skip home throwing open the door to find her in her apron serving the food to my father and brother.  She would nudge me to the sink to wash my hands. My father would tussle my hair, my brother would give me a playful punch. We would eat our meal together, savoring the flavors and the love we had for each other. 

In my dreams I hear her calling, singing my name down the street.  I can never find my way home. There is always an ocean to cross or a gate I can’t get through or soldiers blocking my way.

Categories: borderlands, Faith, Hospitality, lament, Love, pain, Poetry | 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

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