Travel

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

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

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

Recommendation

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Muster up your strength

gather your wits

grab a bike

hop a bus

catch the ferry

book a flight

or just put on

your shoes

follow the signs

and get out-of-town

 

It’ll do you a world of good

to slow down

change your point of view

breathe some fresh air

hear the wind in the trees

or the call of the gulls

 

Stop, look, and listen

 for signs and messages

take beauty personally

this is for me

I too am beloved

 

© 2015 Julie Clark

Categories: beauty, Faith, Hope, Life, Love, Poetry, Travel, Trees | 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

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

For Labor Day

Laboring in Omaha

 

Chilin’ at a closed

Blue Line Café

Music gets louder

As the closer guy

Closes

He’s tired

Must have been here

For hours

Made me the wrong drink

On the house

 

Hot out

Too hot to go home

To a top floor apartment

With workers

Sanding and painting

Outside the windows

 

At lunch our friend

Served us cheerfully

Standing on her feet all day

With a two month old baby

Cared for by her mother

 

All the construction workers

Right out in the hot sun

Fixing the roads

Trying to beat the harsh winter

Always waiting in the curtains

To tear up more road

For next summer’s workers

 

All these working

By the sweat of their brow

Some making more

Then others

All working for bosses

Who are making more

Then they are

I imagine to the hum

Of the window sander

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

 

 

 

Categories: Life, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Take Two Omaha

The Birch The Path to the Garden The Door Path obstructed by flowers Roses enough for everyone Rose

The Garden Path

 

The Garden Path

Was obstructed

First by orange plastic fences

And bulldozers

Wait

Next year you’ll see

The Sun Flowers

 

Then the secret door

Was locked

Don’t give up

Look for another way

It was there

Opening to

Fountain and flowers

 

This time the path

Blocked by yellow flowers

Push them aside

Let the air fill with

Their fragrance

 

How do we know

What to do

When our way is blocked?

We walk with the

Gardner

Waiting to be asked

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

 

 

In the Joslyn

 

Maurice Utrillo’s

Road to Puteaux

Makes me homesick

For Paris

I was there long ago

I never saw that street

 

The lone, wind lashed

Poplar of

Monet’s Village Street

Beckons me to remember

The Poplar lined streets

Of Central Asia

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

 

Categories: beauty, Life, Paths, Photography, Poetry, Travel, Trees | Leave a comment

Hospitality

Welcome!

Come in

I am so glad to see you

Make yourself at home

Taste a bit of heaven

Earth traveler

Here is some food

Some conversation

To strengthen your soul

And lighten your heart

Rest for the next stage

Of your journey

Here is a quiet place

To hear the whispers

Of God’s love

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

 

Categories: Hospitality, Life, Love, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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