Fleeting Moments, Permanent Impressions



Now you see them, now you don't.

What am I talking about? Acquaintances who appear in your life for a fleeting—but instrumental moment—and then are gone. You may never see them again. Their work in your life is complete.

We all know the people who have played major roles in our lives, enduring roles, and left a lasting legacy. Our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and mentors. But when was the last time you pondered the people, the acquaintances, that merely punctuated your life—for a fleeting moment—but left a permanent impression, like the setting sun?

I thought about this a lot this week. And someone came to mind that played a vital role early in my writing career. Her name was Alice Hansche Mortenson. She was a well-known local Christian poet with several self-published poetry books.

I first discovered her work by accident. I was sitting in my dentist’s office. On the coffee table was her book, Just Around the Bend and Other Poems. I picked up her book and read her poetry. It spoke to me on an emotional level.

I started my writing career in the 1980s and was gritty enough to seek authors if their work resonated with me. I learned she lived in Racine. I looked up her phone number and called her. I introduced myself, told her what her poems meant to me, and set up a time to meet and share our collective work.

She was a sweet, elderly woman, marked by kindness and a deep faith. She would later endorse my published work, and a friendship developed. I remember stopping by her home at Christmas time for occasional chats. Five decades separated us. She was in her seventies. I was in my late twenties. An unlikely friendship, brought together by a common faith, and a passion for the craft of writing. She was filled with wisdom; I was brimming with ambition. She humbly helped me launch my writing career and gave me the two things every writer needs to succeed—encouragement and the resolve to conquer rejection.

In those days, she would type letters to me on an old Underwood typewriter and comment on my poems recently published in our local newspaper. I still have some of those letters. She wrote poetry for Golden Agers: those in the golden years who were suffering from illness or aging bodies. Every poem brought the reader inspiring help and biblical hope.

Alice Hansche Mortenson slipped away to glory many years ago now. But I’ve never forgotten her—and how, in a dentist’s office, she crept into my life for a brief time. Fleeting moments, permanent impressions. Perhaps the old saying is right: “Every acquaintance is a divine encounter.”

This year, why not take time to recall just one person who stepped on the stage of your life for a cameo appearance—a fleeting moment—but made a permanent impression. Then ponder this: you have undoubtedly done the same in someone else’s life.



SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  This year be conscious of moments you make a cameo appearance someone’s life. Consider how you can make this fleeting moment a permanent impression.


Alice Hansche Mortenson’s poetry resonated with me because she wrote about one of life’s most precious gifts—relationships. She lost a five-year-old son many years ago and wrote a poem about it titled “Lonesome.” I share it with you here because it may be the only way for you to get a glimpse into the heart of this elderly poet who touched my life so many years ago.

Here is the link: https://jamescmagruder.com/news/lonesome

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