Fruit Trees

The fruit trees

Have put on their new attire

Traded in the bare naked look

From buds to shawls of fragile blooms

Now with sturdy green working clothes

These garments will take them through the heat of summer

Their job, with branches stretching far into the sky

Collect all the glorious light coming their way

Transform the energy to feed the world

Fruit their goal, their hope, their song

No fruit, no life ahead

These trees will bear fruit

The leaves will do their job

And begin the cycle again

After the fruit is picked

Ripe and juicy

The old tired leaves will give

Their last hurrah

Decked out in the best of their colors

Gold, reds, oranges and yellows

The grand goodbye after all their labors

Before they fall to the ground

In storms of rain and wind

Will we like leaves

Live our lives

Dressed for the occasions

Of each stage of our being?

What are our goals, our passions?

Will they feed the lives coming after us?

How will we weather our storms and troubles?

Will we leave in a glorious hurrah

Having done all we can

To leave a rich inheritance

Of a life fully lived and a heart full of love

To the next generations?

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, growth, Hope, Life, Love, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yesterday

Yesterday

I checked in with little Julie

You know, my inner child

There she was 

In her little dress

Sticking close to me

Every now and again

She would hold onto

The sides of her dress

And do a little twirl or

A little sashay

Then she would sit down

Again on the step

And keep her eye on me

She likes the quiet

She loves the bird song

She’s a little shy

A little skittish

She knows 

It is not safe out there

Too loud

Too confusing

Too dangerous

She is sticking 

Close to home

Close to me

Where she feels safe

© Julie Clark

Categories: Birds, children, Life, Poetry, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Am I Hoarding Jesus?

 

When I was a young person coming back to faith in Jesus in the mid 70’s I was taught I had the answers to the questions of life. My experience as I traversed different parts of the world and met different kinds of people that this was not all together true. Yes, my young life had changed as I made following and learning about Jesus a priority, but I had a lot to learn from the people I met. Yes, I could offer prayers and encouragement from my perspective and I did see people encouraged, and even recovered from sickness. Yet, I learned to be quick to listen, slow to speak. Well, I had to be, because I was learning a new language! One of the many gifts of learning a new language. I also was learning and seeing beautiful things in the culture and people around me that I had not learned in my own culture. I learned to look for what good things God was already doing in a person’s life and in their culture. I learned to affirm those good things. Of course every culture has it’s light side and dark side, including my own. Now as I look back on those early years I think it was arrogant and naive to believe I had all the answers. Is it possible that Christians are hoarding Jesus? Saying and teaching that the way I interpret his life and teaching is the only way seems a bit narrow and exclusive.  As if I know all the mysteries of Christ who died for the sin of the world, the very same who is reconciling all things, all people, all creation to himself. I do believe those points. I just don’t pretend to know what they mean exactly or how it will happen.

Here in the form of a poem are some reflections from Mark 9:38 – 41 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me…”

Here, the path is wide

The door flung open

Us and them dismantled 

Here, we celebrate 

Our commonality – our humanity

See the goodness in each other 

Here, the hoarding of Jesus

Is not allowed

Trust the outcome 

To the one true judge

Of all motives, all character

Here we love and respect

We build up and affirm

The God given love

In one another

© Julie Clark 2020

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, growth, Love, Paths, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Blooms and Thorns

Blooms and thorns

Outside my window

Growing on the same branch

Wheat and weeds

Outside my door

Seeds blowing on the same wind

Which will I choose to focus my attention

Who do I want to be

Do I want to be kind and loving

Or indifferent and uncaring

All this growing together

In our hearts

In our world

Intertwined

The world turns

Seasons change

What will we see

In the next season

After this pandemic

It seems we get a restart

Will we be a better world

Will we be better people

Or doom ourselves

Once again

I have read

Love triumphs evil

Light pushes out the darkness

Good wins over injustice

Shall we join

This hard work

Turn the soil and plant

The good seeds

Turn our weapons

Into plows

Our despair

Into faith and good deeds

Julie Clark

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

More Waiting

When you are waiting

For winter to end

When the darkness

Clings closely to the day

Walk in the gardens available

Look for life signs 

Budding on the tulip trees

See Mother Earth wrap her baby blankets

Around pruned rose bushes 

See the robins congregate

In clusters in the leafless oaks

Perhaps planning 

Spring nesting

Encouraging one another

Keep on keeping on

We need our flocks

This time of year

Find our cozy blankets

Snuggle in and make some plans

Visit the green house and get inspired

With bursts of color

Daffodils and crocus 

Even a banana tree

Find warmth to

Free joy in your heart

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Birds, growth, Hope, Life, Photography, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dawn

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

The dawn seeping light into the day

Slowly, slowly, beginning it all again

Fresh hints of

New life

New hope

New start

Everyday

It’s never too late

To begin again

The old way is blocked

Go around

Light shines on a new path

A new idea

Change

Comes with the dawn.

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: Hope, Life, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coastal Rain

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

A soft constant dripping

Soaks roots

Fills streams

Covers the land in green

Higher elevations

Blanketed in white

It could go on and on

For days

For weeks

Seemingly months

Until Spring

Through Spring

And early summer

Slowly warmth seeps

Back into the days

The light changes

Trees blossom

Flowers bloom

The clouds part

Sky is blue

Sun is out

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, mountains, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

New Rhythm

When you need a new rhythm

Old one not working

Wearing you out

Step off, step out and away

Find a quiet place

A lonely place

To think

To listen

Make the changes

To save yourself

© 2020 Julie Clark

Categories: growth, Hope, Life, Paths, Poetry | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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