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Roxane B. Salonen, Published June 07 2013

Living Faith: Fleeting things in life bring abundant joy

When I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how much I love lilacs, a friend whose lilac bushes had been particularly prolific this spring offered me a bouquet.

Happily, I cleaned out one of my best vases and drove to her house to collect my gift of purple.

I found her out in the back yard planting flowers, shears nearby, ready to begin clipping lavender and green.

We stood there for a time in her space, marveling at the late seasonal bounty and the extraordinarily abundant blossoms. It was as if the usual spring treasures, having been delayed this year, burst through with unusual vibrancy once the cue finally was given.

My friend told me that she’d been coming out to the back yard in the mornings in her robe, coffee in hand, wooing herself awake by pulling the lilac branches to her nose and inhaling their pungency.

For the next couple of weeks, I reveled in watching the crap-apple blossoms that line our cul-de-sac turn our neighborhood into a painting. I took as many walks and photos as possible, making sure to stop and inhale often.

Absorbing it all, it occurred to me that my lilac friend also is my sunset sister – the gal with whom I trade texts whenever the horizon has produced a particularly dazzling sky scene.

What is it that connects us so powerfully on these points, I wondered? And then it came to me: fleeting things.

We are mutually moved by fleeting things. In the noticing of them, we come alive. And in the sharing of them, we celebrate.

It is precisely our awareness of how the lovely and temporary combine that we stand in the midst of them and find ourselves smitten. Their transitory nature urges a response, a heart-song if you will, because they are among us now and will be gone tomorrow.

Some might mourn the fleeting thing, focusing on its coming exit. But for my friend and I, and I suspect others, something else happens. We seize the moment and cherish the fleeting thing while we can, deeply welcoming the short-term gift.

But there’s something more. My friend and I also share our faith, and this base seems to most assuredly prompt our tandem leaps of the soul regarding fleeting things.

After all, we are fellow travelers on a journey we understand primarily as fleeting, but not without promise. In believing another spring will happen, we can more fully open ourselves to summer and patiently endure winter.

To me, living without faith would be like a never-ending winter without the promise of lilacs. Or, as one friend who came to faith in her adult years put it, like life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Faith is the promise of something lovely and loving to come that we can inhale to some extent now; a something not fleeting but enduring. As such, when beautiful, fleeting things present themselves, we can rejoice in them, both for their ephemeral beauty as well as the eternal reality to which they point.

This column was written exclusively for The Forum.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com