Love

Strangers, Foreigners, Refugees

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Why welcome the stranger?

Are you afraid you don’t have enough

Resources for yourself?

Your family?

Your nation?

Not enough jobs?

Did you forget the story?

How did two fish and five loaves

Become enough to feed thousands?

 

They would have stayed 2 + 5,

If they were not given up and over

To the One

Who holds it all together

Who taught us the new math

Of sowing and reaping

Of trusting and love.

 

We need reminding

In these times of distress

Times of anxiety:

When we hold our fists

Closed tightly around our resources,

Our love, our humanity

It all turns to dust.

 

When we open our hands:

The Holy Wind blows

The seeds to good soil

Landing, planting, producing.

Holding fists tightly

Stops the river of blessing

Coming our way.

 

The stranger show us

The face of God

In a way we do not know.

Our dimensions become wider

New concepts expand our minds

Love expands our hearts.

We become more fully human

More like the One who formed us

And gave us all that we are

All that we have.

© Julie Clark 2017

 

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Categories: Faith, growth, Hospitality, Life, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Resources Needed

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In our exhaustion

Resources of love and patience

Run low

Small things take on large proportion

Sending us spiraling down

An open door for dark forces

To exploit our weakness

 

Yet, also a perfect time

To see where we need growth

Opportunity for forces of light

To nudge us to transformation

 

Stop

Pay attention

Pray

What are you doing Abba?

Where are you relentlessly working

To free me from the prison

Of self?

© Julie Clark 2017

Categories: borderlands, Faith, God, growth, Hope, Life, Love, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace Longings Part Three

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(I am reblogging this today.  It was part of a three part poem I wrote in 2016. A longing for peace that has only increased.)

How many tears

Can the oceans hold?

When will this violence

Cease?

What will stop the cycle?

More violence is not the answer!

Have we not learned that, yet?

It only prolongs and increases

The destruction and death.

We must wake up!

All must do the work

Of the farmer

Go back to the basics

Sow the seeds of peace

Tears of repentance

And forgiveness

The courageous ones

Will walk towards their enemies

With hands empty

Save for peace

This earth does not belong

To those who devour it

But to the Meek

The gentle of heart

The tide will turn

Wait for it

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Faith, Hope, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psalm reflections

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“Your statutes have been like songs to me

Whenever I have lived as a stranger.” Psalm 119:14

 

I have been a stranger

  in the land

A foreigner in this place

  I am obtuse

To the language

  and culture

Yet one constant –

The song of your presence

 

I am no stranger

  to you

No foreigner

  in this land

Where heaven meets earth

  the song is born

Where you call me your own

  you lead me by the hand

 

“Show me the road that I must walk

For I lift my soul to you.” Psalm 143:8

 

The road divides before me

Shall I turn left or right?

I lift up my eyes,

My soul,

My prayer,

I put my trust in your

Unfailing love

I make my choice

And follow you.

 

© 2017 Julie Clark

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

On a day like today

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On a day like today

When the sun comes out

After months of hiding

Behind low clouds and

Sheets of rain

You could believe anything

You can hope again

Hearts grown cold

Could thaw

Life could start fresh

Love could bloom

You could make new friends

Instead of enemies

Reach across walls and fences

Touch hands

Change could happen

People could listen

To one another

With compassion

They could share resources

They could take care of this earth

That has  been home to us

For ages

We could choose a path of peace

Instead of war

On a day like this

© 2017 Julie  Clark

 

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

Equilibrium

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Every now and again

Life circumstances line up

A great wall of water

A perfect storm

That knocks you down

And carries you away

You and the balls

You have  been juggling

Faith, hope, and love

 

Now amidst all the wreckage

You find a way to stand up

And breathe

You start your search

Looking for those balls

To throw into play again

Without them you

Really can’t live

For very long

© 2017 Julie Clark

 

 

 

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

Happy Valentines Day

Let’s Grow Love

Love Grows

Categories: growth, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Ask the question

Love Grows

When the seams of life unravel

When fog blurs vision

The way forward is obscured

When positions are hardened

Anger flares

Resolution and reconciliation

Seem millions of miles away

Remember

The greatest of all is love

It is the pulse that runs the universe

Slow down and listen

Feel it running through

Your veins

Ask the question –

What does love look like?

Give imagination free reign

Wait for your thoughts to form

Then get ready

Bring a friend, sister or brother

Go do that good

You are inspired to do.

© 2017 Julie Clark

 

Be Your Best

Be your best

Come alive

Breathe in life

Inspire me

With your love

With your courage

Be your best

Find a way

Show the way

I will follow

Be my best

Together we

Sow the seeds

Of love and courage

© 2017 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, growth, Hope, Life, Love, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plant These

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(This is the first chapter of a Children’s Story I am working on.)

 

Thelma woke one morning. It was still “dark morning” as she had always called it when one of her parents had awakened her for school or some early morning traveling before sunrise. “Is it dark morning?” she would ask.

 

This time it wasn’t her parents or older sister, but colorful light glowing or rather dancing in her room.  There were no sounds. Usually these days, she would awaken to raised voices in the kitchen, her mother arguing with her sister or father.  They must still be sleeping she thought.  Then she quickly threw off her blankets and hurried to the corner of her room where the dancing lights were bouncing up and down in a basket.  She stubbed her big toe on the comfy chair next to her desk, but not hard enough to slow her down and only a quiet yelp escaped from her mouth.  She peered into the basket. What she saw was extraordinary! The basket was filled with small glowing seeds of every color bouncing up and down.  There was a note folded on the side of the basket. She lifted it out and turned on the small light on her desk to read it.  It was hard to take her eyes off those seeds.  One part of her wanted to hide them like a secret treasure so no one else would see them or take them, but she turned her eyes to the note now and read:

 

“ Plant these: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  These seeds will die unless you plant them.  Outside in your backyard you will find a bicycle in a tree.  The bicycle will show you where to plant these seeds.”

 

Thelma quickly put on her robe and slippers and headed for the back door.  There was Skiff her beloved mutt curled up sleeping on the mat in front of the door.  He opened his eyes and wagged his tail as she approached.

 

“OK, Skiff you can come with me, but no barking, understand?”  She whispered as she patted him on the head.”  

 

She opened the backdoor and off they went towards the one big tree in her yard.  Sure enough, there was a bicycle hooked up to the trunk of the tree.  She could barely reach it. But with a little hop she was able to unhook the bike and bring it down.  The basket fit perfectly to the handle bars.

 

“Ok, here goes!” She whispered to herself and Skiff as she climbed onto the bicycle and set off.  The bicycle had a mind of it’s own!  She was going to peddle down the street but instead the bicycle went around her house.  She tried again as the driveway came up on the right but again the bicycle went bumping around the house and one more time again.  Then she remembered in her frustration to steer the bike, that the note said the bicycle would show her where to plant the seeds.

 

“Oh! I’m supposed to plant the seeds around our house!” She parked the bike against the house and began digging little holes for the seeds under the kitchen window.  She carefully placed a few of the glowing seeds and covered them back up with dirt. Then all along the sides of the house she repeated her task until she ran out of seeds, which happened to be where she had started. The bicycle was gone.  Then she noticed the early morning light painting the eastern sky.  She glanced over to the tree and caught a glimpse of the bicycle disappearing into the thick foliage of the tree.  

 

As she and Skiff opened the back door she met her parents and older sister coming downstairs.  

 

“Hey, you’re up first this morning!  How did that happen?” Bea, Thelma’s oldest sister asked.

 

Thelma didn’t answer, she just walked over to them and gave them all hugs and said: “I love you.”  Then together they went into the kitchen to make breakfast together.  

© 2016 Julie Clark

 

 

Categories: beauty, growth, Hope, Life, Love, Marriage and Family, Story: Plant These, Trees | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

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