How Good To Center Down! by Howard Thurman

Passing on a beautiful poem/meditation I read this morning from Howard Thurman’s Meditations of the Heart.  In our over full, over stimulated stressed lives, this is a good reminder. Perhaps a good way to start the Lenten season. 

 

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How Good To Center Down!

 

How good it is to center down!

To sit quietly and see one’s self pass by!

The streets of our minds seethe with endless traffic;

Our spirits resound with clashings, with noisy silences,

While something deep within hungers and thirsts for the still moment

    and the resting lull.

With full intensity we seek, ere the quiet passes, a fresh sense

    of order in our living;

A direction, a strong sure purpose that will structure our confusion

    and bring meaning in our chaos.

We look at ourselves in this waiting moment –

    the kinds of people we are.

The questions persist:  what are we doing with our lives? –

    what are the motives that order our days?

What is the end of our doings?

Where are we trying to go?

Where do we put the emphasis and where are our values focused?

For what end do we make sacrifices?

Where is my treasure and what do I love most in life?

What do I hate most in life and to what am I true?

Over and over the questions beat in upon the waiting moment.

As we listen, floating up through all the jangling echoes of our turbulence,

   there is a sound of another kind –

A deeper note which only the stillness of the heart makes clear.

It moves directly to the core of our being.  

Our questions are answered,

Our spirits refreshed, and we move back into the traffic of our daily round

With the peace of the Eternal in our step.

How good it is to center down!

 

Howard Thurman

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Lent, Life, Paths, Poetry, Prayer, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning to Listening

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How well am I listening to the voice of my Shepherd?

Have I been searching his Word for his words to me?

Have I been watching his every move to move with him when he moves?

Am I slowing down when he does,

to stop and play with a child or

listen to another who needs my ears and comfort?

Have I stretched out my hand in healing as he does?

Am I studying his ways to match my ways with his?

Forgiving as he forgave me?

Forsaking condemnation and judgement,

while learning the art of love and compassion?

How well do I know his voice?

Enough that I do not follow the thousand voices

leading me down other paths far away from his?

How well am I listening to the voice of my Beloved?

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

Last Night in Boston

Fresh snow fell through the night

Washing the world again

covering all the barren trees

with a fresh cold compress

Given as a gift

to slow

to heal

to strengthen what remains

until spring thaw

when sap begins

to flow

and new life appears

in bud and blossom

Hope arises in our hearts

as it always does each spring

reminding us not all is lost

life will be renewed

again

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

Categories: Boston, Hope, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Little Child Will Lead You

This poem is dedicated to a little girl, (8 years old) my friends’ daughter, who befriended another little girl, a Muslim child in her class and invited her over to play and have dinner.  Another morning her parents found her boiling an egg to take to school. Her friend was embarrassed about her lunch being so different from everyone else’s lunch. My friends’ little girl noticed she had a boiled egg in her lunch. She decided to boil herself an egg, so her friend would not be embarrassed.  She brings me great encouragement. Peacemakers are being raised up quietly right in our midst. She gets my first chocolate bar.

https://backfromtheborderlands.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/lets-trump-evil-with-good-and-win-a-big-chocolate-bar/

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When darkness gathers as winter settles in

with black clouds surrounding

what little light we have left

Hold tight to the hope in your heart

It is buried deep within

 

Faith, Hope and Love

will not be extinguished

…and the greatest of these is love

It is love which is the greatest

and most powerful of all

not fear, nor revenge, anger or hate

 

Let love ruminate and perfect

through the night, through adverse circumstances

because joy will come in the morning

and when it seems utterly impossible

…let a little child lead you.

 

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Musings of a Mother

 

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Musings of a Mother (Revised for Advent 2015)

 

He’s a puzzle, a mystery, a riddle

This person I know so well yet not at all

I only see a part not the whole

I can’t get inside his head or his heart

I don’t know why he does this or that

Says it that way instead of this way

He could avoid a lot of conflict

if he said things a little differently

or not at all

 

I admit I am perplexed and mystified

I even wonder at times if his mind is overloaded

Some what imbalanced

He always has so many people

clamoring about him

he doesn’t take care of himself

What’s a mother to do?

 

Yet, he is the one the angel

called me to bear

The one we have been waiting for

I know

I said yes, and I did what I was asked

I was not ashamed

I knew where he came from

 

But what kind of deliverer will he be?

How is he going to save us from our enemies?

He says we should love them!

He is so gentle and kind

This babe I once wrapped in rags

Where were the angels when I wreathed in pain

like every other woman?

I heard later they were off singing to some shepherds

sending them to us

They worshipped him and

mentioned peace on earth

I wish I could have heard the angels sing

 

The angels did come again

Just in time to warn us to get out of Bethlehem

before Harod’s treachery

A terrorist slaughter of babes

Then we were refugees in Egypt

until the angels came again to send us back to Israel

 

Those were somewhat ordinary times

under the heel of Rome in Nazareth

We lost our precious Joseph in those years

broke our hearts

We made it somehow

until the day cousin John by the river

pointed to the Lamb of God

 

I will continue my daily watch

Pack up and move with him

as any mother would

He is so weary and spent

He may need me again

Before this day is through

 

 

Categories: Advent, Faith, God, Hope, Love, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let’s Trump Evil with Good and Win a Big Chocolate Bar!

 

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Let’s Trump Evil with Good and Win a Big Chocolate Bar!

 

Here is how to do it.  I have 5 big bars of Trader Joe’s Chocolate for the first 5 people who invite a Muslim friend, co-worker, or neighbor to dinner.  I ask that you simply invite them, cook a simple Halal meal, which could be vegetarian if you don’t have access to Halal meat.  Now ask your guests questions about their life and listen.  Please just listen and learn some things you’ve never known before.  This is how we make friends, how we make peace and defuse the crazy phobias flying around these days.  The first 5 people that get back to me with their address (US only please) and a simple description of their time I will send a 1 pound chocolate bar. I suspect you will receive an invitation in return and make a life long friend.  I hope this is true. How about taking this challenge?  Especially if you have never done this before.  

 

Let us be world changers together and truly “Love our neighbors as ourselves”. “Doing unto others what we would like them to do to us”, takes some thought.  What would it be like to be a Muslim in our country right now?  How could I do something to help ease their fears and anxiety?  What if I was in a foreign country where words were flying across the airwaves and threats being made about people of my faith? A simple invitation of hospitality might be a start.  May God bless you!  I hope to hear from you soon!

 

Categories: Advent, borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Love, Peace and Reconciliation | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In This World…

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I came across this fitting poem by Wendell Berry in “Farming, A Hand Book”. It reminds me that this generation is not the only one that has seen the world on fire.  I read it to our guests at our Thanksgiving table.  We had a beautiful, but small representation of our world with Central Asians, Libyans and Americans, Muslims and Christians breaking bread together and giving thanks. The phrase “In this World” comes from the New Testament.  Jesus to his disciples:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Here is the poem.

 

The hill pasture, an open place among the trees,

tilts into the valley. The clovers and tall grasses

are in bloom. Along the foot of the hill

dark floodwater moves down the river.

The sun sets. Ahead of the nightfall the birds sing.

I have climbed up to water the horses

and now sit and rest, high on the hillside,

letting the day gather and pass. Below me

cattle graze out across the wide fields of the bottomlands,

slow and preoccupied as stars. In this world

men are making plans, wearing themselves out,

spending their lives, in order to kill each other.

 

Wendell Berry

 

Categories: beauty, Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Small Taste of Needing Hospitality

 

It seemed like a normal day. Then it started raining after a sunny morning. Rain is normal for the Northwest but, we were going up to Bellingham in the afternoon to trade in our car for another one. Trading in a 03 VW Passat that was nickle and diming us, for 02 Toyota Prius with low milage and running well. Our margins were shrinking for getting up there in a timely fashion when my husband came in the door looking distraught.  The Passat looked like it’s radiator was bone dry.  It turned out it still had some fluid in there and filled up pretty fast when we added more antifreeze.  We had to stop and get some more, just in case.  Then we got out of town, but we found out on the way as we drove through Everett that the car dealer was closing at 5 not 5:30 and if we wanted to get the car that day we needed to be there by 4:45 at the latest.  That wasn’t going to happen. We looked at each other, not the best thing to do when you’re speeding down the freeway! So we had to decide as we headed north if we would turn around or go anyways and see if our friends we were having dinner with would take us in for the night. We struggled with the decision, knowing they really did not have room for us.  Fortunately, we were able to get a hold of him and he said just come on up, we’ll figure something. Their house is wonderful, but small.  No guest room. We tried calling another friend we have stayed with, but found out her grandson was staying with her.  Anyways, we kept driving in hope we would have somewhere to lay our heads that night, even if we didn’t have a toothbrush, change of clothes or Archie, our dog.  Quickly I sent a text to my son and daughter-in-law to ask them to visit Archie, our dog and let him out for a bit.  They happily agreed.

 

Just as we were almost to Bellingham our car started flashing signs at us. Stop!!! Oil!  Don’t drive anymore! Pull over immediately!!! Something like that. Well, we were on the freeway and on a curvy part going over a small pass through the hills. Ugh.  My husband safely pulled way over and we had a little bit of oil that we were able to pour in.  How did the oil dry up so fast?  We checked the dipstick.  It still had oil.  We were confused but kept going.  The signs stopped flashing for a little while, about 1 mile from our friends house it started again.  We kept going, but we were pretty frazzled by the time we showed up.  They had sent us a text that we didn’t get to meet at a brewery.  We had to turn Bill’s phone off to save battery since we didn’t bring our chargers thinking we’d be home the same night.

 

Our dear friends graciously invited us in and finished their dinner preparations to take along to the brewery we were going to.  She is an amazing cook, like you would not believe.  She had made a beautiful salad with olives and cranberries and tomatoes, with an exquisite dressing and amazing stuffed peppers.  Yum!  For dessert knowing I can’t tolerate much gluten she made coconut macaroons sprinkled with almonds and chocolate.  The funny thing was in my frazzled state when we got to their house and saw this beautiful food and that we were going out, I thought the food was for someone else.  My friend straightened me out and said “No, this is for us! The brewery doesn’t serve food only beer and live music.  We can bring food or order it from a truck outside.”  Wow!  I felt like there is a God in heaven.  Everything was falling into place again.  We had a lovely dinner, as you can imagine, and the most delicious beer ever.  All listening to a great bluegrass band that kept our feet tapping. Our friends didn’t mind us staying the night, in fact they fixed up their camper van that we had borrowed 2 summers ago for camping in the San Juans.  We had a cozy night listening to the rain and felt so comfortable remembering our fun camping trip.  They basically treated us as if Jesus himself had needed a place to lay his head. 

 

The next day we traded in our car and drove home without drama. One thing that stands out to me in my real life story is that there is something in me that doesn’t want to make a bother or a fuss.  I feel embarrassed and ashamed. I am wired not to ask for help! I guess it is something I sucked in from my culture and family as an independent American.  “Do it yourself and for heaven’s sake don’t bother anyone else.” Fortunately, our friends were so gracious that my awkward feelings quickly disappeared as they made us feel welcomed and loved.  My mind more than once thought of the refugees making their way across the sea to Greece and then further up the European continent.  They are fleeing for their safety and lives.  How do they feel?  How are they treated?  How are we doing with treating the foreigners in our midst as if they were Jesus himself?  Are we shaming them for needing us? Remember the parable:  “As you have done to the least of these you have done to me”? May God help us all to see His face in the face of the one who needs our help and hospitality.

Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Life, Love, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Booties on the Ground

Reading to us

Booties on the Ground! My daughter shouted up the stairs as I was looking for my grandbabies little shoes before we headed out on an outing in some wet, cold weather. I found the little booties on the ground as she had instructed, but all the while thinking of the other phrase: “Boots on the Ground!” The meaning of going to war sending our young people in the path of bombs and bullets to send out their own bombs and bullets on “the enemy”.

 

The world  continues to ignite in firestorm after firestorm. Horrific acts of terrorism and war.  Violence in our streets and in our schools.  Natural disasters leaving misery and grief in their wake. It would be easy to lose hope, but that is one thing we cannot afford to lose.  We could do with losing some anger, hate, bitterness, revenge, fear and the like.  Those really need to go, because if we continue to feed them they grow and we suddenly become the very thing we hate or fear. There is a spiritual law that is not unlike the natural law of sowing and reaping.  You plant an apple seed you get an apple tree.  You plant the seed of hate, that is what grows.  I do not think we can stop the wars and violence in our societies with more violence. It is not working!

We continue to have more war and violence instead of less.  I heard a short clip by  Nobel Laureate

Shirin Ebadi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-sZIl_R_BE

 

She said if we would have thrown books instead of bombs we would not be in this place we are now with ISIS.  Well we didn’t throw books we threw bombs on Iraq and Afghanistan.  Is it too late to undo this?  What can we do to stop this violence?  

 

Back to the Booties.  Are any of us adults considering what we are doing to the children of this world?  What if those in Booties could vote?  Make war or make peace? Have you seen these compelling photos of where Syrian children sleep?

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lynzybilling/where-syrian-children-sleep#.saOnqG2Y7q

 

Please take some time to look at these photos.  What would their vote be?  Make war or make peace?

 

Making peace is not easy.  It is easier to flow on tides of hate and revenge. It takes great effort and humility to make peace.  It takes searching of our own hearts.  Where have I errored? Where have I disregarded another people different from my own?  It takes great courage to walk towards our enemy unarmed.

 

The bravest man I know did not arm himself to the teeth with weapons, or call in a numberless army to surround him on his assault against evil.  Instead, he picked up his cross and headed toward a hill.  He did the hardest work of sacrificing himself to make peace for his enemies to know God’s love. In doing so he stopped the spiritual forces of darkness arrayed to destroy mankind.  He was the same wiseman who said, “If we live by the sword we will die by the sword.” At another time he put a little child in the middle of his followers and asked: “Do you want to be great?  Then become like this little child.”  

 

This is my call today.  “Booties on the Ground!” Let us become like children and choose what is best for them.  I think we all can agree that peace rather than war is best for our little ones.

 

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Life, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remember Me (Communion Song)

Sunset After the Rain

This is my body – broken for you

I gave it freely – for you

Remember Me

This my blood – poured out for you

I gave it freely – for you

Remember Me

As the Father sent me – so send I you

As I laid down my life – lay yours down too

Remember Me

Freely you have received – freely give

I am Emanuel – always with you

On your journey towards Home

Remember Me

In your struggle to make sense – In your struggle to make peace

Remember the poor, the sick, the imprisoned

In all that you do – in the work I have given you

Remember Me

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Love, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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