Paths

A Series of Laments

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I am writing a series of laments. As a white evangelical Christian I did not learn to lament in my religious or cultural background. This lack of lament is probably due to the fact that I and my ancestors, as part of the dominant culture, have not suffered the injustice, oppression or violence as have many of my neighbors of color. In the last few years I have been introduced to this specific form of prayer.  It is connected closely with confession and repentance.  We are living in an extremely violent society, in an extremely violent world. We are reeling from one tragic event to another. As a follower of Jesus the Christ, I have learned from his teachings the law of sowing and reaping. What is planted is what grows.  With this principle in mind I wonder what it will take to root out the violence in our society and in our world. Large trees with long roots started as small seeds.  What seeds have been planted in our history that continue to bloom into violence? I believe a collective lament, confession and repentance is necessary for lasting change to occur. The path to healing in our communities, must go through this path of self-reflection and acknowledgement leading to lament, confession and repentance. I invite you to join me in this journey of overturning the soil in our hearts in the hope of producing the good fruits of love and peace in our world.

Laments can be spoken, chanted or sung together in a group or alone.  The bold letter words are for those who wish to pray together in a group.

This first lament is in response to the recent Texas church shooting.

 

#1 Lament for violence in our land:

 

Oh God hear our prayers!

 

Today children are grieving.

They have lost their parents or grandparents.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

Today parents and grandparents are grieving.

They have lost their children and grandchildren.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

Today brothers and sisters are grieving.

They have lost their siblings.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

Today neighbors and friends are grieving.

They have lost their neighbors and friends.

Oh Lord hear their cries.

 

We have done wrong against you

And our fellow human beings

Made in your image.

We have not loved our neighbors

As ourselves.

 

We have loved our power

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our comfort

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our privilege

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our safety

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

We have loved our weapons

More than our neighbors.

Lord have mercy.

 

Lord have mercy

And forgive us these things

We pray.

Show us how to walk out

Our repentance towards you

And our neighbors.

Amen

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Categories: Faith, God, grief and death, growth, Hope, lament, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Like the Good Shepherd

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Come looking for me

Like the Good Shepherd

I am lost

I am lonely

I am scared

We all lose the path

Sometimes

We cannot find the way out

Of a maze

A pit

Out of the water

Rushing over us

We need

A rope

A strong boat

A  hand

To pull us out

And up

Sometimes

We can be

That rope

Or hand

When someone else

Is sinking

 

© 2017 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Paths, Poetry | 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

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

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

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

Winter’s Hold

Winter’s hold

Is deep

Suggesting it

Will not let go

This time

The ice will never thaw

Life will always be hard

Hope is out of reach

Yet, I saw

The dew had frozen into

Delicate crystals, clinging

To the branches

Breaking my heart

With beauty as

I walked along

The frozen path

The mystery of

The fire in the stove

Sending out it’s warmth

Encircling me

As I try to make

Sense of this world

Is a comfort to body

And soul

The child’s pure laughter

Over a game of

Peek-a-boo

Beckons me

Don’t give up your search

For hidden treasures

Love, hope, joy, peace

Are in need of finding

© 2017 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Faith, Hope, Love, Paths, Poetry, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We like sheep

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We like sheep? This phrase kept running through my mind this morning after only a few hours of sleep. Not the smartest of animals.  Following each other into dangerous places. Over cliffs, etc.  The question now is how far is the fall?  Time will tell.  Will electing someone who is proud of assaulting women, makes fun of the disabled, clearly ethnocentric and narcissistic, racist, a war monger, fear monger, a liar and a cheat (have I forgotten anything?) have any consequences? Of course it will, but what they will be we have yet to see.  “When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.” Anyone remember this verse from Proverbs before you voted?

My world seems less safe today than yesterday. Yet I cannot give into fear.  I have to practice what I preached on Sunday: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled, don’t be afraid…” I remind myself today of the Way of Jesus.  It is a long pilgrimage of following him and practicing his ways.  Which are so very different from the ways of this world.  It is a way of doing good, not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good.  It is a path of peace, where peacemakers, the humble, the poor, the pure in heart, those hungry and thirsty for justice, the meek, the merciful, those in mourning, and yes the persecuted are all blessed. It is a way of forgiving and being forgiven. It is the way of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.  

Thank goodness and thank God advent is just around the corner.  Maybe some will search their souls during this season and align themselves with the Good Shepherd and his ways.  It will help as we encounter the consequences of our choices.  Maybe listening to Handel’s Messiah will help us get through some of this darkness.  I’m starting early – today. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmeyG5LlFWU

Here’s some sheep verses in case you are interested.  

Isaiah 53:6

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Matthew 9:36

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Mark 6:34

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

1 Peter 2:25

For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Categories: Advent, Faith, God, pain, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 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

Peace Longings

I.

 

If only we could laugh together

With pure joy

If only we could play together

Running free

If only we could trust

and let go

If only kindness

Was at the top of our list

Instead of the unmentionables

Which I will not mention

Because you know,

They are blasted over us

Over and over until

We are numb

If only we were as

The little child stood in our midst

Clapping his hands

In glee

A smile that is wide and open

As the ocean-free

Forgiveness will bring us back

Home again

Given and received

And wipe away every tear

Root out all the bitterness

So the tender root of joy

Can push up it’s head

 

II.

 

Longing for Peace

Reconciliation, forgiveness

Starting fresh again

Prince of Peace – Come

Show us your ways

Teach us your paths

Help us to walk in the way

Of peace

A humble road

Admitting we have

Done wrong

Asking for forgiveness

Giving it

How we bungle these things

With pride, fear

Protecting ourselves

Our interests

Lay down these weapons

Lay them down

 

III.

 

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, God, Hope, Life, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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