Intersection Column | Kindred Spirits
by Cathy Gohlke
Growing up, my family moved too often. Meeting new people and establishing friendships was hard for this introvert, and then to suddenly lose those friends and go in search of kindred spirits in a new community felt like a cross between trekking a desert and climbing Mount Everest. I vowed that when I grew up, I’d settle down and never move again.
Enter reality. Work, marriage, job changes, family needs, and finally the coming of grandchildren—the strongest of calls—all severed that youthful vow. But as Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables fame once said, “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
I’ve always loved Anne and admired her long friendship with Diana Barry, so I took Anne at her (albeit fictional) word and pressed on. Others inspired me, too, such as the sisterhood of the March girls in Little Women—Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth. I admired the closeness of women in the Bible—Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth, despite their age difference; Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, despite their different backgrounds; the alternately stormy and championing sisterhood of Mary and Martha of Bethany; and the women, mother and friends of Jesus, who stood together at the foot of His cross, sharing their combined grief, desperate to minister to Him in any way they could.
So, it’s little wonder that I wanted to write about the vital sisterhood of women in Ladies of the Lake. Close relationships can prove wonderful, precious, life-sustaining through hard times. Who besides our sister or best friend—a sister of the heart—will tell us the truth, even when it hurts, will rejoice over the smallest of our victories, will stand with us through hard times when all others desert, and is ready to take our phone call even in the dead of night?
Ecclesiastes tells us that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV). Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that “iron sharpens iron.” The best friendships don’t try to conform to the pattern of one, but each encourages strengths in the other while helping to soften rough edges. We are better together than alone.
But as Addie, Dot, Ruth, and Susannah learn in Ladies of the Lake, even the closest of friendships can be sorely tested. Jealousy, misunderstandings, competition, bullying, secrets, lies, shame, arguments, betrayal—any number of things can fray relationships or completely tear them apart. It takes great humility and great love to say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Can we begin anew?” In the case of Addie, Dot, Ruth, and Susannah, it takes many years and requires that each of them confesses the role they played in the fracture of their friendship.
Most fallings-out are not pitted against a backdrop as dramatic as WWI and the prejudice Ruth feels against the Meyer family for the death of her brother when the Lusitania is bombed by a German torpedo. Rarely does a friend simply disappear without a word, as does Addie in allowing her friends to believe that she died in the Halifax Explosion. More often disagreements or vindictiveness come because of something more common—like Dot’s jealousy and secret spite when Stephen’s affections turn toward Addie rather than herself. Friendships can simply slide to the back burner of neglect when life, work, family, or distance intervene, as in the case of Susannah caught in her climb up the social ladder and in the raising of her family.
Despite their good intentions to remain close, each young woman plays a part in the failure of their friendship pact, and each middle-aged woman plays a needed part in seeking forgiveness, reconciliation, and in taking steps to tangibly demonstrate a path forward that they might travel together.
The gem these women discover is that although each one needs to step out of her comfort zone and confess things she would prefer to forget, each knows that in the long run, her discomfort will be worth it, for herself, for her sister friends, for those who observe their relationships, and for the generations that will follow. Thankfully, for her daughter Bernadette’s sake as well as her own, Addie realizes that our roles in life are not solitary but are intertwined.
Kindred spirits are out there—whether many or one. They’re worth stepping out of our comfort zones to find. We’ve blessings to give and to receive through friendship.
About the Author
Bestselling, Christy Hall of Fame, and Carol and INSPY Award–winning author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons, speaking of world and life events through the lens of history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and her husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren. Visit her website at cathygohlke.com and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.
About the Book
After the death of her parents, the last thing Adelaide Rose MacNeill expects to find at Lakeside Ladies Academy is three kindred spirits. The “Ladies of the Lake,” as the four girls call themselves, quickly bond like sisters, vowing they will always be there for each other. But love and war rip the sisterhood irrevocably apart. Seventeen years later, Adelaide Rose, now known as Rosaline, is drawn into a past she had determined to put behind her.
Did You Know?
God can use any of us, no matter our age or circumstances. I did not begin my writing career until I was well into my fifties. And it all began with listening to the whispers of God and then trusting Him as I stepped out in faith. It is never too late to start a journey to your purpose in God. Here are other examples of how God used older people to serve His purpose:
Abram was ninety-nine years old when God called him. Abraham was an old man before he even began his journey with the one true God. And even when Abram doubted God could fulfill the promise, he never gave up. God formed a great nation through Abram.
Noah obeyed the Lord no matter what. Noah spent 120 years constructing the ark. Until then, mankind had no experience with great floods, let alone with massive ship building. Everyone laughed and criticized Noah until the day the rain began to fall. God saved the world through Noah.
Anna lived long enough to see prophecies fulfilled. Anna lived as a widow for 84 years after seven years of marriage. If Anna was married at age 13, she would have been 104 years old when she encountered the newborn Messiah.
Never give up trying to find a godly purpose for your life. Give all your doubts and fears to God and step out in faith.
-Yvonne M. Morgan, Gypsy for God
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I like shopping in bookstores because I am a people person. As I stroll through the aisles and page through the books, I talk to the employees as well as people I don't even know. The bookstore environment is warm, friendly, and peaceful. I also like supporting local businesses. It's a win-win every time I go.”
-Crystal Bowman, Good Morning, God Loves You