Posts Tagged With: fear

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

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

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

The Enemy Within

Again hate and fear are splashed across the pages of our newspapers, our screens, and our hearts. How is our world continuing to spiral further and further out of control? What will stop this craziness?  It’s not just the terrible violent acts, but also the hateful and fearful aftermath. Fingers are being pointed in all directions.  We really want answers and we want to blame someone other than ourselves and our own communities for these horrific acts of violence.

Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates the words of Jesus in The Message, regarding the final days. Matthew 24:11:  “In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.”

There is a lot of confusion, a lot of voices, deception and spreading of evil. What has happened to the love in our hearts?   Do you know that fear kills love?  More words from The Message this time from 1 John 4:17-18  God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, ….There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear…

For those who want to blame Islam – I want to say this is not Islam, read these words translated from the Qur’an: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.”(Qur’an, 5:32)

And for those who are asking the question (I have heard it too many times): “Why is the Muslim community not speaking out?”  They are! I hear them! Maybe their voices are not being listened to, or the wrong people are being heard.

For those who fear (as in fear the slippery slope) the LGBTQ community.  These ones are beloved of God! Who does the right to judge and condemn belong to? I remember there is only One Judge and it is not me. This judge is full of mercy – he even loves me, in all my messy brokenness.

The only remedy I understand from the words of my Saviour are “Love one another, this is my command.”  Not just love those who love you, remember? Love your neighbor, love your enemy.  Those following him are supposed to be known by their love, not by their condemnation.

So if the case is that the enemy is not out there but within our own hearts, if truly our love is growing cold, we better hurry and learn how to love again before all that is left is a pile of ashes.

 

Categories: Faith, God, Love, pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Which Way

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There are those

Who spread fear

Just as black ink

Splatters thick

across the paper

 

Then there are those

Doing the slow work

Of love

Meticulously erasing

The stain

One person at a time

And filling the space

With glorious colors

Where beauty can take shape

And life can grow again

 

Here is a suggestion

Instead of standing against

The “Other”

Come along side

Listen to their story

Sorrow and pain

Love and joy

Understand

They too are human

Just like you

 

How did this happen?

The bridges slowly built

With care and love

Years of hard work

Dynamited in seconds

Rubble of hate and fear

Left behind

An enemy came

And spread seeds of destruction

Instead of kernels of peace

Fingers stop pointing

Look instead to the heart

Am I a good neighbor?

Am I my brother’s keeper?

 

© 2016 Julie Clark

The Path to the Garden

Categories: beauty, Faith, growth, Hope, Life, Love, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maundy Thursday: Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

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Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God. Trust also in me. (Jesus) John 14:1

 

What about when violence seems to be in the water we drink, in the air we breathe, the rule of the day?  What about when lives of children are taken without a second thought, gunned down on beaches, in airports and by drones taking out whole families?  When a president of a private christian university encourages students to arm themselves and take out people of a different religion?

 

How do we live in these days when politicians skew all decency and accusations fly through the air waves thick with fear and racism?

 

Do we pull back and hide, stockpile goods and arms?  Protecting ourselves and a few others perhaps?  I seem to recall One saying “if you choose to save your life you will lose it”.

 

This terror, this fear is like a vortex, spinning out of control,  if you get too close to it will suck you in and down.

 

There is another way.  It is a way that refuses to lump people into categories of other, evil, enemies, or sub- human.  It chooses instead to pray for, to bless, yes even love our enemies. It chooses to reach out across barriers to the other, the one who is different, has a different hue to their skin, or language on their tongue or culture I do not understand.  It chooses to seek understanding and to bridge the gap rather than build another wall.

 

This is the path of peace, the way of love, the road to life.  

 

Here we are today Maundy Thursday, approaching Good Friday, before we can get to Easter.  What lessons are still here for us to learn as we see Jesus throw off his robe, tie a towel around his waist, pick up a basin of water, and wash his fearful, doubting, even betraying disciples’ feet? This, a precursor to what was to come the next day.  He laid down his life for all.  He calls us to follow Him.

 

“Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.”

 

There is a way through these times.  One deep breath, one step, one prayer, one cry, one embrace at a time.  It is a humble path and no one is saying it is easy. Is it possible?  Well, what is impossible with man, is possible with God.  Let’s choose this path of peace instead of participating in the destruction of our planet.  

Categories: Faith, God, Good Friday, Hope, Lent, Life, Love, Peace and Reconciliation, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Separation

Falling into this world

I lost my union with the Holy One

Naked and alone

Insecure and afraid

If only I could shed this fear and anxiety

like the snake its skin or the trees their leaves in the fall

If only I could slough off the what ifs and worse case scenarios

forming in my thoughts as I scan the perimeters of my life and those I care for

The One called Love came to me first in a thought and then a dream

When  I called his name the fear vanished and I was not alone

This One kept calling and calling and continues this day

restoring the union that was lost

Whenever the fear stalks in the night or confronts me in the day

if I but rest in the arms of this Love

I know I am clothed, safe and secure

Never alone, never abandoned

The circle complete again

 

(c) 2014 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Hope, Life, Love, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fog

Fog is besetting us

like a great horde covering the steppes

it has settled in for days

the more sensitive among us

are succumbing to a dark mood

today there is a dripping mist

hardly detected

but all is wet

lawn, house, tree and fence

a sign perhaps

this fell fog will eventually

dissipate and leave us free

from it’s clinging clutches

 

Fog and Fear

 

You wonder why fog brings a chill to my spine

there was a time I went for a walk by myself in the fog

I was young and needed some exercise

walking is good exercise

but maybe not the best for a young girl in the fog

from behind came one with evil intent

at his touch I wheeled and rebuked him

in the Mighty Name

he fled back into the mist

but still the dread and chill linger with this fog

 

The Cure

 

Begins with a walk with a strong son

no matter the fog with this cheery companion

the next day

escape to the Island

catch a ferry to carry you away

to the great rain shadow

where cloud and fog dissipate

in the afternoon sun

warming your face

the distant shore

clouded and shrouded

but you have blue skies

and gulls screeching

to gladden your heart

the fog itself is not fell

just the lingering memory

that heals when viewed

and shaken out

like a dusty rug

in the  sunlight

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, Life, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Path of Peace

Guide my feet

In the path of peace

May I do my part

That war may cease

 

Teach me how

To listen well

To refrain from judgment

Sending others to hell

 

It’s not my place

It’s not my call

Judgment stirs up strife

It builds a wall

 

May I understand

What it is to be

In another’s place

Not obsessed with me

 

Lean into You

Sit at Your feet

See through Your eyes

Everyone I meet

 

Invite the stranger in

Share a meal

Enjoy diversity

Let kindness heal

 

Fear will die

I can lay it to rest

When I choose love

It is the very best

 

Love will do the job

It will get to work

Root out the darkness

Wherever it may lurk

 

© 2013 Julie Clark

Categories: Faith, God, Life, Love, Paths, Peace and Reconciliation, Poetry, Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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