In This World…



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.


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?


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


IMG_6304 IMG_6302 IMG_6290


Rain washing our faces

as we curve around the lake

A favorite city walk

for man and beast

Algae blooms

in the water,

so beautiful to see, yet


keeping swimmers

at bay

Not that many are interested

this time of year

The trees are

really turning now

in full fall gala

Nothing can stop them

(only a lightning bolt or

a person

with an ax who hates beauty,

driven to stamp out glory

wherever it is found)

Are there such people?

Yes, but they are few

in the minority –

don’t vote for them!

or sell them a gun!

Pray for them instead,

help them up

out of despair

Then tend to the remnants

of the garden we have left

Gently coax it back to life

The meek will, someday,

inherit the earth, after all.

© 2015 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Faith, Hope, Life, Paths, Poetry, Prayer, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Troubled Sky


Woke up to an empty house

Troubles in this world

troubling my soul

Down by the water

should cheer me up

I’m searching for those messages

Flowers planted along Sunset Drive

Some still holding summer’s smile

others faded and shrivelled

I wish the eagles would come and chase away

my melancholy

Container ship passing by

What will it take to wean us from some of our comforts

so that others would be less poor?

Just giving up a cup of coffee causes major

upheaval in my head and heart

A tree is cut down

apparently because the roots are pulling up the sidewalk

Why don’t they just move the sidewalk?

They do in India

Inconvenient, yes, but spares the life of a tree

What is life worth to us anyways?

I feel we are mixed up about that question

I remember a wise man once said

“one’s life does not consist

in the abundance of his possessions”

He was warning us about greed

It’s a time in history again

where we need to be inconvenienced

stretched and changed

It is a time to value life and protect it

Desperate refugees

Unborn children


Our very planet

What will we do?

Will we listen to the voices of the wise

or close our ears and hearts

and hope it will all go away?

Oh, it will all go away

Quickly if we don’t do something

about our destructive ways

Life is fragile

delicate as

a butterfly’s wings

yet resilient

able to heal and restore

Let’s not push things beyond

the limit here

We still have time

© 2015 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, Hope, Life, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Belonging

Be. Long.

Longing to



to be


To love

and be loved.



Free to be



and grow

in this

rich soil.


I belong to God.

He belongs to me.

I belong to this earth.

I am made from it.

The earth belongs to me,

not to exploit but to care for and use as needed.

I belong to heaven.

I have the breath God breathed in me.

Heaven belongs to me.

This breath of God is my down deposit.

© 2015 Julie Clark

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

Outside Wildside

Admiring the grand old bur oak

across the street.

Some dead branches have been cut off,

some big holes in that tree.

The locals are telling me raccoons live there,

fierce raccoons.

I hadn’t seen them yet,

and had been there for over a week.

I guess I was not prowling around

when they were.

We saw them a few nights later,

five of them slinking around the garage next door.

Maybe they are going after a cat,

there are a whole lot of strays in the neighborhood.

Then I saw another pack,

when we walked home from Jazz in the Park.

The locals were taking me the long way

because it was prettier.

I saw those lit up eyes

and clapped until they disappeared into the gutter.

We gave the gutter a wide berth

and crossed the street.

The city is alive with wild creatures

while we are sleeping or indoors.

Have you noticed

how the wild takes over quick in some places

when you lay your hoe down for a few minutes rest?

The prairie grasses are beautiful,

but you have to remember to flick all the ticks off

when you’re finished with your hike.

In the Northwest we battle dampness and mold,

Blackberry vines can take over your yard before you know it.

Rats love the city,

Seattleites are seeing more than the usual, this summer.

A friend once told us

he sees coyotes out when he’s running early in the morning in Los Angeles.

A few years ago, in the spring

A bear ran through our neighborhood.

Good for us city slickers to be reminded

We are sharing this planet.

Categories: borderlands, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


More roses

Where I come from, west of the Rockies all the way in the LA basin, fireflies were part of the magical world of Disneyland. Some mythical land, somewhere was alive with them, but I was only able to see them in the caverns of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.

This summer’s visit to Omaha awakens that magic again, sitting on the front porch with my merry daughter.  Those  creatures are real, towing their flickering lanterns as they dart in and out of the Magnolia Tree.

Stories I have heard about or read about in books of faraway mystical lands bring the same feeling of enchantment that these little bugs are stirring in me. “It’s true! It’s true! There really are fireflies in the world!”

Traversing parts of our world, especially far-off Central Asia and India, exploring ancient ruins in bone dry deserts and strolling through colorful bazaars in bustling towns with exotic names awakened similar feelings.  The bazaars were real, with all the dazzling colors and variety of goods I had read about. The magic wore off as I shopped regularly for fruits and vegetables, haggling over prices with the stall keepers.  There never was any magic in the meat and fish section with the pungent smells, in fact I had to avoid them in Taiwan when I was pregnant with my firstborn.  Leave that kind of shopping to my strong stomached husband!

The magic of a volcano became real to me when my family was able to spend three months on the big island of Hawaii.  Kilauea produced a different kind of awe in me than these fireflies.  Something like, Wow! Maybe we shouldn’t be so close to these fissures in the ground, and I definitely want you kids to stop jumping over them, even if your father is leading the charge!

My most vivid experience of this kind of awe happened when I was seventeen.  I went to a concert put on by some Jesus People in my home town. I had never been to such a concert, but was so curious about these people.   Little did I know this one small  event would lead to a major shift in my life that continues to this day.  I remember awakening the next morning with this powerful sense of God’s love for me, just as I had the night before.  The same sense of wonder, that something I longed for was true, strongly surrounded me. “Jesus loves me this I know…”

Categories: beauty, borderlands, Faith, God, Hope, Life, Love, Paths, Prayer, Seasons, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summer Chimes



Along ancient paths

newly surfaced again and again

poplars, descendants of

the Aged Ones,

are whispering

in the warm summer breeze


Will i stop and listen?

Autumn will come

soon enough

and lash these chimes,

winter will find them gone


Now in this warmth only

is their message heard

for this season,

later the falling leaves

and bleak branches

will have another message


Life presses in

with it’s pressures

do this, do that

and hurry up

you are late again,

fill every moment

with a call or a text

until the pulse races

and the poplars

playful message of

peace and joy

cannot be heard

for another year


© 2015 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Faith, Life, Paths, Poetry, Seasons, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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