Roxane B. Salonen
FARGO — Initially, Lisa Hanson tried to avert her eyes, head and heart when it came to human trafficking. She didn't want to face that sex-trafficking happens right under our noses. Or that 80 percent of 'johns,' or buyers, are married with children or the fact that the interstate-surrounded Fargo-Moorhead area offers prime access for this lucrative, back-alley business.
In the movie "Hacksaw Ridge," a foxhole scene shows two men who've been at odds with one another discovering their common humanity during a pause in the battle. While not easy on the eyes, the film is good on the heart, and my viewing of it, just after the presidential election, couldn't have come at a better time. The end of 2016 tried our country in ways some of us have not quite experienced before. Emotions that had been roiling beneath the surface burst forth, threatening our ability to see one another from the inside-out.
"I love you, Roxane." The words reach deeply into my heart this quiet evening as my husband and I glance out the window from my mother's sixth-floor apartment unit in Bismarck. We're confronting the reality that we are snowed in for a few days at Christmas time — a fate that feels more like a blessing than a curse this moment. After all, we're together — literally, and beyond that, too. We have made it through 25 years of marriage, and right now, that feels like something.
MOORHEAD — In Caleb Boyer's first published book, "Island Games: Mystery of the Four Quadrants," best friends Matthew and Ryan find themselves trapped on a remote island with limited memory and resources. Overcoming obstacles becomes possible through working together as well as adding a heaping of kid-appropriate humor. Caleb, now 12 and a seventh-grader at Park Christian School in Moorhead, knows a bit about overcoming obstacles.
A couple years ago, I joined several busloads of high school students on a trip to the annual March of Life rally at our nation's capital. We journeyed hundreds of miles in cramped quarters, rested minimally, took part in a monumental walk with throngs of others along Constitution Avenue and enjoyed a fair amount of sightseeing. Our trip was nearing its close when our bus stopped for one final point of interest at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
FARGO — Poet Timothy Murphy has found his former muse unable to keep pace with inspiring what he can now muster in meter. "My muse was sitting with her nine sisters and her mother Mnemosyne on a well in Mount Helicon 30 miles north of Athens, but of course, I didn't believe in them the way I believe in the Holy Spirit," Murphy says. Undoubtedly, his conversion back to Christianity over a decade ago has helped keep his pen well-inked.
Quietly, and with great concern, I've watched the controversy at Standing Rock unfold. Though it might seem a white woman, or "wasicu," writing about faith would have little to say on the matter, I grew up alongside the Lakota and Assiniboine on the Fort Peck Reservation in northeast Montana, where my parents taught and lived for 37 years. Given that my formative years happened in Indian Country, maybe my perspective could be helpful. Certainly, the situation has been pressing on my heart; I have friends in both worlds and love them all.
FARGO — No one would guess the hell Shegitu Kebede has lived through. The scars she bears from her horrific childhood in Ethiopia in the 1970s do not show visibly. Instead, those who encounter her see only her poised, grace-filled presence. The losses — her biological parents at age five from war; her missionary parents from political tumult; her faith in God temporarily; her siblings; and eventually her innocence as she was raped after fleeing a Kenyan refugee camp at night, pregnant and vulnerable — go deep, reemerging only as haunting reminders.
On Nov. 8, I began the morning reading the Word of God and other inspirational writings to help start my day solid. And then I poured out my heart to God, begging for some sign that he is indeed with us, his hand near. I didn't pray for a specific result, just that his merciful will would be obvious. I knew that not only the United States, but the world, was counting on this election's outcome. I begged God to bring relief to the oppressed across the world and in our own country, regardless of how the votes leaned.
HORACE, N.D. — Like any mother and wife with cancer, Heidi Frie has good reason to be miffed at God. After all, from the beginning, the severity of the disease's injustice hit hard. "Ironically, the day after I went into the hospital, Anna was getting confirmed," Heidi recalls, of the week in June 2011 when pains in her body had become too fierce to ignore.