Invasive Species

The other day I was hacking some ivy back that was trying to take over an azalea plant in my backyard.  Our yard is pretty wild and overgrown.  We have a lot of trees and bushes that I am slowly learning to recognize.  Gardening has not been a huge part of our lives since we have lived most of our adult years in China and Central Asia.  Three quarters of those years were in apartments.  Now here we are back from the borderlands with house and garden.

As I was hacking the ivy, I thought I would take a swipe at this invasive species that has slowly been taking over one area of our yard.  It has been bugging me for a while, but I have mostly ignored it.  Everyone I’ve asked has recommended spraying it.  But since I have a lung condition that is probably environmentally related, and a little dog, and live near the Puget Sound where our run off water runs into, I haven’t done that. So I started pulling up the weeds one by one roots and all.  Bill saw what I was doing and joined the party.  We made a little dent in the problem.  Not major, but a start and if we keep at it we can maybe get rid of most of it and then be inspired to look around at what our next project can be.

So I started thinking, because I am always looking for meaning, messages and metaphors in life.  What if these invasive species represent evil? War, human trafficking, greed, violence, injustice etc, etc.  You name it. What if we just left it to take over? Ignored it? Even got used to it? The world would be a wild place and I don’t mean wild in a good way.

Thank God good people everyday are out there doing good every day keeping evil at bay.  They are fighting inertia and making a difference in families, neighborhoods, cities, countries and the world.

We can be overwhelmed with all the invasive species or we can find our place in the garden and get to work.  Whether it is cooking food for hungry people, making friends with our neighbors near and far, helping children, praying and blessing others, caring for the elderly or disabled, working for peace and reconciliation in the hot spots, or encouraging a friend or stranger.  There are so many ways to honor God with good works.  We all have a part of pushing back the darkness in our day and in our times.

Jesus as always is our example. He wasn’t fretting or frantic over the evil of his day or the evil of all days put together and laid on him.  He had work the Father gave him to do, a job at hand and he steadily did it, until His final hour. He was not overcome by evil but overcame evil with good.

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Life, Prayer, Sermon Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

All There

It was all there

down at the beach today

we were hushed and in awe

at the glory in the rain

and in the sun

glory in the forest

and in the sea

glory in the fresh air

filling our lungs

in the wind

sweeping by

glory in the bright blue sky

and the deep dark clouds

glory in the walking

glory in the heron

chased into flight

by a pair of labs

glory in our pup

running back and forth

and glory

in the bald eagle

swooping near

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

 

Categories: beauty, Birds, Dogs, Life, Poetry, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wedding Poetry Reading

 

These are the four poems I read at Nathan and Sarah’s wedding this last Saturday in Dubach, Louisiana. The first I wrote for Michael and Analia’s wedding in Tarija, Bolivia in 2009. The second I wrote for Suzie and Lich’s wedding on Whidbey Island in Washington State in 2010. The third I wrote when Nathan and Sarah were about to graduate from Tien Shan International School in Kazakhstan in 2009. The final poem was written in 2014 especially for Nathan and Sarah’s wedding.

 

Love is a choice I make today

Oh joyous day finally arrived

Long waited for dreams come true

Songs filling the air and our hearts

We choose love today.

 

The dance begun with timid steps

Continues on ever stronger

Each step uniting us closer together

Oneness and unity belong to us

We choose love today.

 

Each new day will come

Some with joy, some with pain

Love is patient

Love is kind

Remember the ancient words

They are life

Strong medicine when the heart feels sick

Love is a choice we make each day.

© 2009 Julie Clark

 

The story began

Long before you opened your eyes or breathed your first breath

 

Love has always been

In the Ancient Circle of Three

 

As the nature of love is to grow and be given away

It will never diminish, but multiply from generation to generation

 

As each new set of lovers take their place in the dance,

Unique in wonder and glory,

They replay the original heartbeat of the universe in their steps

 

It’s true

Our wildest and best dreams

Love is at the center

Not perfected in us yet

We see only dimly through a glass

But each choice to love brings closer the time

When love will rule the day

And there will be no more darkness

No more night

 

So take your place young lovers

Follow the wind of the Spirit

Who will lead you on

Choose love each and every day

For one another and for all those who enter your circle

As surely as the sun rises each day

The world will be brighter and lighter

Because you two have joined the dance

 

© 2010 Julie Clark

 

 

Love Has Time (Fridge Poetry)

Love has time

For summer music

Playing magically

Like moonlight

Bouncing upon the night

 

Love has time

To wait

For blossoms in their buds

To spread forth into the light

And say “I am here in all my glory”.

© 2009 Julie Clark

 

Who knew?

That waiting would take this long?

That your lives would weave together again

 

Who knew?

That your hopes and dreams had to die and be buried?

That a surprise resurrection was coming?

 

Who knew?

That there were tender eyes watching?

That there were strong hands guiding and weaving?

 

Who knew?

That you would be invited to join together in the great dance of love?

That you would hear the invitation and say yes?

 

Who knew? God knew and now we all know!

Let the source of all Love teach you now how to love one another.

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

 

 

 

 

Wedding Poetry Reading

 

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Hope, Life, Love, Marriage and Family, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Single Thread

What seems tentative to me

A single thin thread of hope

May be fortified with unbreakable titanium

It may be just enough

to hold through a lifetime

I only see through a glass dimly

There is so much more

beyond my vision

at work in this universe

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, Hope, Life, Poetry | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

A House Called Hope

If I could build a house today

I would call it Hope

Despair has knocked my walls down

again

I have to start over

So easily I am leveled

So easily I let go

of the Strong Hand

 

Now I bow low

I cannot build this house alone

I have no tools

no knowledge of construction

I look at my hands

empty

yet

I see the Strong Hand

underneath

holding mine up

open to receive

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Life, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Reel

One person

priceless

connecting to another

 

It’s a gift

and a guard

against loneliness

 

We are fully alive

when connected

three ways

God, another, ourselves

 

We are not made

to live

in isolation

 

A delicate dance

space and solitude

with

community and unity

 

We each have

our own unique steps

still learning my part in the Reel

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: God, Life, Love, Marriage and Family, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Raid

It looked like a crow was raiding a robin’s nest in the big plum-tree at the end of the yard.  All the robins and chickadees were stirred up flapping and shrieking. It’s gone now.  What damage did it do?

World events and ones closer to home keep me thinking of injustice.  The powerful rule the weak. The unjust prey on those they can trample and oppress. Guns can be had easily by young mad men bent on destruction leaving beloved ones dead in the street. Who will stop this lunacy? How many have to say enough is enough?

The inexpensive jam I bought got to me yesterday.  I normally read the labels, but it was late and I was in a hurry.  Why are companies still making jam with high fructose corn syrup?  I know it must be the cheapest way, the biggest profit margin to be gained.  In the meantime, the rich get richer and the poor get fatter and sicker.

The crow came back.  Was it for another mouthful? When will enough be enough? What can one person do?  I can’t climb that tree and keep shooing away the crow today or everyday.  How do I live in this perplexing world where there is still so much beauty, yet evil runs rampant?

I read today: “Evil may still be a four letter word, but so, thank God,  is love.” (Evil and the Justice of God, N.T. Wright)

I am reminded of the holy words:  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Romans 12:21) It does no one any good for me to despair, in other words be overcome by evil. It does many much good if I continue to do good and continue to hope. The choice is there, harder on some days than others.

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Birds, Faith, God, Hope, Life, Love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Incident of a Duck and a Dachshund

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Usually our 10 pound Dachshund is pretty obedient.  That is if he perceives we are close enough to grab him.  If he is more than five feet away all bets are off on his obedience.  He reckons if we can’t grab him, he is a free agent.  It was kind of like that today.  Although we had not noticed him slipping silently away when we were looking out across the Puget Sound.

 

It was such a beautiful, freakishly summer-like spring day in the Northwest.  We had walked along the beach towards the pier.  The tide was coming in but there was still plenty of time to get back to the part of the beach that does not disappear when the tide comes in.  The part we were standing on would slowly get smaller and smaller and the water would eventually come all the way up to the rocky embankment.

 

When we did notice that Archie was not right beside us, it was too late.  He was already madly swimming after a Mama duck. We, of course, called and whistled but he completely ignored us.  Pure instinct had taken over. All loyalty to his Master and Mistress thrown to the wind with the scent of that duck in his nostrils. The mama duck swam back a little closer to the shore to be joined by her six chicks.  They kept up a steady chatter of cheeps as they swam after her. Now Archie was chasing her and her 6 chicks.  She took him deeper and deeper.  He didn’t think twice about the frigid temperatures of the Puget Sound or the angry fowl he was chasing.  She kept zigging and zagging and taking him deeper and deeper.  Finally she flew over his head flapping and took him in the opposite direction of her chicks.  They must have had a brief pow-wow.  Something like:  “OK duckies, I’m going to distract this crazy dog and you guys swim that way and I will swim this way.”  It worked for a while but Mama couldn’t ignore her chicks bleating cheeps for too long, so she swam back across Archie to make sure they were OK.

 

By this time Bill was taking his shirt off, emptying his pockets and heading out to the shore across from where this drama was being played out.  All the while, I was praying that Mama duck would lead Archie a little closer to the shore so Bill could grab him.  She eventually did start coming close to shore and Bill jumped into the frigid waters.  He swam close enough to Archie to almost grab him.  Archie finally came to his senses and let Bill separate him from his prey. The two of them came back to shore.  Rescue completed.  I am sure that Mama Duck would thank us if she could, or maybe not.  Maybe she would scold us for our poor obedience training. We hurried back along the ever disappearing shoreline picking our way through the rocks in time to get to the non-disappearing part of the beach. When we came home Archie, planted himself in his favorite chair and slept the rest of the afternoon away.

 

Categories: Birds, Dogs, Life, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cleansing the Land

The earth had been defiled. A young couple had attempted suicide in the park on a dark winter night.  A few old growth cedar stumps anchored the path reminding us that ancient forces of life have been here a lot longer than we and our people.  Our ranger friend lead us up the path and then off the path, bushwhacking down to a spot under a cedar tree.  He had asked earlier if we would come and help cleanse the area.

 

That dark winter night one person had second thoughts, and called 911 on a cell phone with a fading battery. It was enough for the first responders to know generally where they were. Attempts to return the call failed, but they set out with a Search and Rescue dog.  One group came in from the top of the park and another from the bottom.  The rangers house was at the bottom.  They knocked on the door and were able to get the Ranger couple’s help since they are the caretakers of this land and know it better than anyone else.  Eventually the couple was found, thanks to the efforts of all, including the dog who was able to locate them. They were evacuated and taken to a local hospital with life threatening wounds.  Later, word got back to the rangers that they survived.

 

When we got to the spot, Psalm 24:1 was read: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all it’s people belong to him.”

 

We prayed for the young people who came to this place so desperate.  We gave thanks that their lives were spared, that the forces of life were stronger than those of death that night.  We understood that because they came to the park, they were able to be rescued. If they had gone somewhere else that may not have been the case.

 

We took pure water from a spring that bubbles up near the path then joins the creek that runs through the park. We poured the water out as a symbol of life and cleansing. We prayed the water would be cleansing to the earth and renew it along with the gentle rain and our prayers.

 

We ended the ceremony with this Celtic prayer:

 

In time of sorrow:

 

May you see God’s light on the path ahead,

when the road you walk is dark

 

May you always hear, even in your hours of sorrow

the gently singing of the lark

 

When times are hard may hardness never

turn your heart to stone

 

May you always remember when the shadows fall

you are not alone

 

Walking back to the bottom of the trail where our cars were parked we noticed the sun’s setting light in the tops of the trees and remembered the first stanza of the prayer: “May you see God’s light on the path ahead, when the road you walk is dark”. We talked about the Japanese and Korean custom of “Forest Bathing”. It is a walk in a forest as a way of relaxing and managing stress, while breathing in the healing aromas of the forest.  This whole experience was indeed cleansing for both the land and our souls.

Categories: God, Hope, Life, Paths, Prayer, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Birdsong

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I am paying close attention

to the birdsong

this spring.

They stop me at the window

in the yard

on a walk or

on the way to the car.

“We have something to say to you!”

“Are you listening?”

 

As a small girl

I would lie down in the cool

shaded grass

looking up into the green leaves

deciphering the birdsong

code -

the chattering, whistling,

singing from one branch

to another:

“Come to tea!”

“Don’t forget to feed your babies!”

 

Now they are singing

sweet reminders:

“Slow down,

no need to rush.”

“Don’t take life

so seriously.”

“Enjoy this moment with us.”

“We have a secret

we want to sing to you.”

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

 

Categories: beauty, Birds, Life, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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