Hospitality

Shameless Audacity

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Shameless audacity

Just go ahead and ask

You will not regret it

Pour out your words

Coming straight from your heart

What do you need?

What do you want?

Who are you carrying

Close in your thoughts?

Bring it all up

Bring it all out

Pray –

What will it hurt?

You will be welcomed

You will be heard

In this place

Where heaven meets earth

Connection becomes communion

Ask, seek, knock

Believe and receive

The Spirit is yours

 

© 2017 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Hospitality, Lent, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Something New

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(This poem is dedicated to the Arts Team at the Seattle Vineyard)

Learning

something new today

Thank you

for inviting

prodding

just a little

to get me started

to whet my appetite

that perhaps

I could

create something

beautiful

with my hands

with the help of

paint and canvas

paper and scissors

 

You could have

kept your talents hidden

or only allowed

the professionals

to join the fun

instead you threw the doors

open and

invited us all in

to join

the joy

of creating something

beautiful

 

I think

there are many

budding artists, singers

musicians, writers

etc.

out there that only

need the nudge of

encouragement

and invitation

to get started

on opening up

new streams

of joy in

their lives.

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, growth, Hospitality, Life | 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

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

On the need for ears

DSCN1750The voice sometimes takes over,

all good intentions of course,

but it forgets

the ears have a job to do as well.

As the lips move, passion builds

as a case is made,

losing connection with the heart of the other,

forgetting the words of the Holy Book:

“Be quick to listen,

slow to speak

slow to become angry.”

 

How much better to first give the ears

their chance,

rein in the tongue of fire,

and opinions for awhile

Be prepared to learn from another’s

point of view.

Wisdom’s treasures

are often found

in hidden places,

for the quick to listen

to hear them.

 

© 2015 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Faith, God, Hospitality, Life, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Cabin in the Woods

A Cabin In the Woods

Beloved Ones are like

a cabin in the woods

 

A safe place to stop

along the journey home

 

Warm fire of family

of being oneself

 

No need to cloak

my vulnerability

 

Or hide my face

in a mask

 

Feast and refresh

take the nourishment

 

Rest for the next leg of the road

be it stoney or steep

 

Another cabin will appear

a light in the window

 

Will beckon me

when needed most

 

© 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Faith, Hospitality, Life, Love, Paths, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Family Gatherings

Our 1,750 square foot home did not feel very big when we gathered as a small clan for an extended time in mid wet winter.  There were a few days when 9 of us were together.  I am grateful for dear friends who let us use their “cabin”, which was bigger than our house, for those few days. Mix in a small dog with a toddler to liven things up and you can imagine the chaos at times. On the whole the 1,750 square feet were big enough, everyone had a bed or at least a mattress, enough bathrooms to share and room to cook in the kitchen to keep all of the above fed.

Compared to some parts of the world where we have traversed, our square footage is enormous. Many families in Hong Kong live in very small flats where gathering as a clan takes creativity. When we lived there, hospitality was often shared in a favorite restaurant. We were grateful for the rare opportunities to visit friends in their homes.  The refugees (boat people), who were our students, had one tier of a double sized bunk bed to call home. Yet, they still practiced hospitality and invited us to sit on low plastic stools to share a meal. Our Central Asian friends don’t worry about tables and chairs, they sit on colorful mats on the floor with a tablecloth spread out on the carpet for piles of food to share.  That way more people can squeeze into a room. Later they spread those same mats and more for sleeping.

I have been thinking this morning about how good it was to gather as a growing family.  It’s good to move our stuff and make room for each other. Our bonds were strengthened with each other. Our grandson will not remember the details of this visit in his long-term memory, but I believe he bonded with each of us in a special way that will continue through his life.  I’m smiling as I think of him singing “Teo, Teo, Teo”, (Uncle in Spanish) as he headed upstairs looking for his very fun Uncle. Or the report from his Mama that he woke up saying “Nana” a morning or two while he was here.

Another way it was good, was to see where love still needs to grow.  We don’t always know unless we are in a situation where it is challenged.  Say, tired and in need of a shower and both of the showers are in use.  Or, not quite enough of that fresh french pressed coffee to go around.  Or, whose on the dish duty, not me again? Or just trying to figure out what to do together. Things like that can help us see where our attitudes need adjusting.  If we live isolated lives we never really know where we need to grow. When the children were young and we all lived together,  there were daily lessons to be learned by all of us. Now I need my family to keep showing up for visits to keep that process going in my life. It’s not just knowing where I need to grow that is important, but also turning those needs into prayers and inviting the help of Heaven to bring about change on earth, in me.

I am tired and need to put my house back together again.  I need to get back into my regular schedule of writing and meeting with people, but above all I am so grateful for the sacrifices my kids and their spouses made to come home, travel from far away for the holidays.

Categories: Hospitality, Life, Love, Marriage and Family, Parenting, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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