[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, and allowing a second chance for those who missed them the first time, I reprint them here, with permission. The following ran in The Forum newspaper on Jan. 3 2015.]
Living Faith: Gift of faith carried by free will
By Roxane B. Salonen
This gift cannot be wrapped or topped with a shiny bow, but it is the mother of all treasures. It’s the gift of faith – the thing some of you have been ducking a bit of late, at least on the surface.
I don’t mind that we’re not all in sync right now. Though I worry at times you could miss this precious pearl of great price, my trust in God will not allow me to wallow in those thoughts for long.
Indeed, I’m compelled, by faith, to allow your free will and God’s free love to take over any imperfect wishes I might have for you.
Do I sense some eye-rolls? Oh, I know there’s something deeper behind all five, beautiful sets of those eyes, and in time, those thoughts will arise. When they do, I hope you’ll remember my words to you today.
Up until recently, your faith has been handed to you, but soon, you will be free to decide whether you want God to be integral in your life, just an occasional murmuring, or nothing at all.
As you make this decision, I hope you will reflect at some point on how you would even be here to think on these big questions if some incredible force hadn’t set the world, and you, in motion to begin with.
It is not unreasonable to conclude that that force not only loves us but is personally invested in our lives. At the knowledge of this, life becomes one swelling motion of gratitude.
Take, for example, those Christmas gifts you recently opened. They were nothing more than a manifestation of and response to that loving, divine presence.
A light entered our world, and the world has never been the same. With that light came hope, something we cannot live well without.
It took me forever to grasp the significance of all this, so I certainly don’t expect a quick return from you. I want you to grapple with all the hard questions and determine for yourself if this faith thing holds any weight.
So please, turn our presumptions inside-out. Scrutinize them from every angle possible. The only true travesty will be if you shrug your shoulders and surrender without examination.
Your life might not be easy at times. It could well be that in order for you to appreciate the light of which I am speaking you will need to be separated from it for a while.
It’s hard for me to admit that, and even harder to watch you walk away not knowing how it’ll all turn out, yet I realize this is where our choice ends and yours begins.
Your father and I have done our best to lead you in the way of faith. Now, it’s up to you. We dearly hope you will discover this beautiful gift, which we have tried to prepare you for. And yet we know at times it comes disguised and may be hard to see.
God will lead you there more assuredly than we ever could if you but ask. Will you recognize him when he walks onto your path through the love of another or a blessing that could not have come from human hands alone?
Stay alert. He is there always, close at hand, if you but look.
Dear hearts, despite what you’ve felt at times, you’ve always been free. It’s just that until now, God entrusted you to us. Now, one by one, we’re letting go of each of you so you can search for what is true, unencumbered.
Now more than ever we are trusting that the faith that has anchored us will prove to be a steady harboring force for you, too. So as you step further into the wider world, we will give you the space you need, but meantime, we will be praying without ceasing for your well-being.
Know, above all, of your innate goodness and how much you are loved. Our greatest desire is that someday, we can share eternity with you. We are reaching for that and feel assured it couldn’t possibly be as beautiful without you.
Love always, Mom