Roxane B. Salonen
FARGO — At a Wednesday evening vesperal Presanctified Liturgy at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, the only light emanates from windows holding the last spark of day and the flickering of candles. Incense permeates the sanctuary, where the Reverend William Rettig processes with a vessel through which smoke rises like prayers. A sense of holy, and of waiting, has settled into the Lenten ceremony of this small but committed congregation.
Last Saturday, I spent the day with over 600 other ladies for the Fargo Diocese's Redeemed Women's conference. The event centered on the reality that our identity as women comes not from what we do, but in who we are: beloved daughters of the Father. The two opening speakers gave moving testimonies that spoke to the heart of our "feminine genius," the innate, life-giving capacities of women in both earthly and spiritual motherhood.
BRANSON, Mo. — There's a reason Tony Melendez named his music ministry Toe Jam Music. Born without arms due to an anti-nausea drug his mother was given while pregnant, Melendez plays guitar with his toes. And soon, he'll be in North Dakota to lead a parish mission, with his feet, faith and family at the forefront.
FARGO — When planning the upcoming "Beloved Daughter" women's conference, Jennie Korsmo says the hope is to provide a beautiful, nourishing atmosphere for weary women. "We wanted to make a way for them to pamper themselves, to take a break from worrying about feeding the kids or husband or the next 10 things on their plate," says Korsmo, marriage preparation coordinator for the Diocese of Fargo, which is hosting the March 11 event. "It's a day for them to be a little bit pampered, a little bit spoiled and to focus on their relationships with each other, and with Christ."
FARGO — In the six and a half years since Eco Chic Boutique opened here, much has changed. While the store's gradual shift from a baby-mom home store to a home décor, furniture and paint boutique has been noticeable, however, the Holy Spirit whispers woven into this transformational tale have been perhaps less obvious. "There were definitely a few spots along our journey where the Lord placed people and products and things in our path," says owner Maria Bosak.
Back in December, I interviewed local poet Timothy Murphy and some of his literary comrades about his poetry book, "Devotions," for our bi-weekly "Faith Conversations" feature. Normally, that's where the story would have ended. It wasn't my place to interject, but rather, to let the story unfold through the voices of others. But occasionally the objective and subjective collide — when recorded testimonies linger, infusing with my own searching soul.
Recently, we witnessed three huge events at our nation's capital. I watched each from afar, but with great interest, looking for the spiritual takeaways. I was encouraged by the elements of faith I observed in at least two of the events. At the presidential inauguration, pastoral prayers and oaths made firm with hands on Bibles reminded that even a civic leadership cannot exist without God's hand. And at the March for Life, a wide wave of religious symbols and sentiments brought hope.
FARGO — The newly-baptized men at River of Life Church would prefer to think of themselves not as homeless but "misplaced." Though the former term relates to how they ended up at the New Life Center, where the church meets, it no longer describes their soul. Thanks to Reverend Nenkawah Gbeintor, they now have a secure anchor in the Lord. "The devil wants to isolate you and burn your bridges so no one can cross over to you," Gbeintor says, adding that in baptism, the soul becomes unchained.
Donald Trump is now the 45th president of the United States, and Inauguration Day hangovers have kicked in full force. We're either happily hopeful, or terrifically terrified. Either way, gatherings to voice what kind of nation we're to be in coming years have just begun, and opinions differ widely. We have, for example, today's Women's March on Washington, a massive, female-led protest to repudiate our new president. On Friday, another monumental event will return to D.C.; the annual March for Life opposing the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
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.