borderlands

Not Brave Enough Yet

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Yesterday I was hit by a cloud of grief that soaked me as I watched Barack and Michelle Obama wave good-bye.  I could only watch for a couple of minutes and then just had to sit with my grief. As my thoughts went to the bravery of the women who would be participating today in the Marches across the nation, I felt afraid and vulnerable.  I, at this point, am not physically strong enough or emotionally brave enough to march. I want to hide. I don’t want to stand out. I am one of those faceless, nameless women (no longer) who have been molested and groped. As many others before me have done, I am choosing to move into the light rather than hide in the shadows. This new president has made it very clear he is not on my side. Thank you to all the women who are able to step out and make a stand today.

 

I’m a complicated person, in process, aren’t we all? I have lived overseas for over 20 years of my adult life. I know what it feels like to live as a foreigner, an outsider, one who does not understand all the languages and cultures swirling around me.  I was sent by evangelical churches and people to love people with very different cultures and languages. That is why I am grieved by so many from this demographic who are now calling for isolationism and nationalism. Are they giving into fear and self interest rather than being ruled by love?  They seem to be listening to another voice other than the One they claim to be following.

 

I count it a privilege to have many Muslim friends who are very dear to me, some even call me Mom. I grew up among Hispanics in East Los Angeles and am honored to have a precious daughter-in-law, whose first language is Spanish.  I am also very proud to have a Vietnamese son-in-law. From all of these groups I learned more about family and community.  I have learned about hospitality, kindness to strangers and a deep respect for the elderly.  I am enriched by my international family and friends. We are deprived when we cut ourselves off from the richness of other cultures.

 

Through listening to the stories of our friends, my anthropologist husband and I are trying to understand what it’s like to be on the margins in our own country. We are part of an organization (Peace Catalyst International) that builds bridges, not walls.

 

Today I am feeling stronger.  After listening to some of the inauguration speech by the new President, I want to say I’m sticking with the words of Jesus over his.  Jesus said if you want to be great, then be the servant of all and he showed us how to do that by laying down his life.  He said the first will be last and the last will be first.  So this “America First” statement strikes me as really dangerous. Self interest never leads to love. I’m sticking with “the greatest of these is love”.

 

 

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, growth, Hope, Hospitality, Love, pain, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will I?

 

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If I listen

I will hear a variety of

Chirps, tweets and caws

Outside my window

The motors become background

To the symphony

If I listen

 

If I look

I will see the flowers

In the trees

The vibrant colors

In the garments swishing by

The mouths turning into smiles

If I look

 

If I smell

I will catch the aroma

Of spices in the air

The curries being prepared

The jasmine and frangipani

Dominating the fragrance of the path

If I smell

 

If I taste

I will savor the fruit and yogurt

In the lassie

The spices in the biryani

The ginger in the strong

Milky tea

If I taste

 

If I touch

I will feel the texture

Of the rich colorful fabrics

The weight of the children

In my lap

The cool tiles on bare feet

If I touch

© 2016 Julie Clark

follow the leader

 

 

Categories: beauty, borderlands, Life, Paths, Poetry, Travel, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Independence Day

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Can a people be free without enslaving and exploiting others?  I believe they can.  I believe there is a path.  Many wise teachers have gone before us and exhorted us.  Let us listen to their voices, their pleas.  How do we live the words, “Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.”? It is not impossible. It is something we can do step by step, person by person, until whole communities and perhaps nations can live with this ethos.  

 

I remember when I was still quite young, 20, a teacher who was an expert on revival came to teach a class I was taking.  I asked, “How do we get a revival started?”  His answer: “First draw a circle around your two feet and pray that God would revive everything within this circle.”  Wow, I was not expecting that answer! So simple, so profound. Start with me.

 

As I celebrate the 4th of July,  I want to consider how I can promote freedom and justice for all people, starting with those around me who I can treat well, neighborly, kindly and with compassion. May we all join our circles together and bring the changes needed within and without our borders for this kind of freedom without exploiting others.

Categories: borderlands, Faith, Life, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 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

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

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.

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Fireflies

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: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts on What’s Next

Heading out

some day

We all are

One way in

and another way out

 

Could be serious

or not

my friend tells me

of her illness

Too close again

for comfort

My heart is achy

 

Is it a mere door or

will we go through a tunnel

to another world

or a dimension

just beyond ours

where all is well and whole

one day to be

together

as heaven reunites

with earth?

 

© 2015 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, Hope, Life, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the Way to Meet Isaac

Isaac

 

The full moon called you

You answered and came to us

Leaving the warm secure

for the adventure of life and love

We are so glad you are here

No one like you has ever been

or ever will be

Unique beautiful creation

You

I love how I can see both your parents

in your beautiful face

I cannot wait

to hold you

breathe in your fresh scent

straight from heaven

 

© 2015 Julie Clark

 

Categories: beauty, borderlands, Life, Love, Parenting, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Call to Prayer

Sometime before we reached Mumbai

The crickets started their part

in the great symphony of the night.

“We’re still here!  We’re still here!”

They sang and called me to God.

 

A song rose in my heart in response

that I could not sing aloud.

What would the taxi driver think?

He may have thought I was a little off.

 

So I let it sing inside of me:

“Lord forgive us.

We have not honored you.

We have not cared for your creation.

We have not loved one another.

We have not cared for the poor and the weak.”

 

We reached Mumbai.

Waited for hours to be told

No room for you on this plane.

We were escorted out of the airport

and put in a taxi

by some kind airport officials.

The taxi drove off.

The driver and his co-worker

working the phones to get us

on another flight or into a hotel

in the wee hours of the morning.

A call came,

“You are lucky! Confirmed seats

available!”

They raced us back to the airport.

Same kind officials

escorted us quickly through

the lines and waved good-bye.

There was room on the plane

after-all.

We made it, last to board,

walking in a dream.

Very grateful.

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, Life, Poetry, Prayer, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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