Developing a healthy relationship includes spending vast amounts of time in another person’s presence, maintaining the quality of time spent together, nurturing diversity mixed with understanding, and finding meaning in something larger than the relationship.
I saw those elements clearly in Turtle Heart, a book about the cross cultural friendship between an introspective Mennonite girl (the author) and a passionate Ojibwe lady.
The friendship between these two blossomed from a generous investment of time and the willingness of both women to engage in difficult conversations, as you’ll find out when the book delves into heady subjects like homosexuality, religion, and culture.
The author, Luci Kinsinger, articulates her thoughts and feelings with self-awareness and sensitivity. She portrays her Ojibwe friend Charlene as being both loveable and irritating, fragile yet unbreakable. Charlene resisted religion but loved Jesus. She asked probing questions about God and the Bible, revealing an undercurrent of need and longing that Luci found hard to resist.
I found Turtle Heart artfully written, interesting, and relevant to my own experience with diverse friendships. As I read, I became more thankful for the complex relationships in my own life. I was reminded that being surrounded by others different from me expands my mind and soul like little else can.
The subject of being born again surfaced several times in Turtle Heart, and this is actually what touched me the most about the book. Luci and Charlene both had to let go of some preconceived, culturally conditioned ideas about what it means to be born again.
It’s funny how Charlene’s stories have a way of opening my mind as nothing else can. For the first time, I understand her under-the-surface, never-quite-expressed antagonism against the born-again people.
I’ve always viewed “born again” as a miracle of new beginnings, a gift from God. Charlene, maybe, views “born again” as just someone’s bragging rights, a way for some self-righteous individual–a fat, lazy foreman, maybe–to say to another, “I’ve had an experience with God, and you haven’t…Turtle Heart, pg. 261
In the end they both discovered the truth: being born again has little to do with religion and everything to do with the love of Jesus.
I will be giving away a free copy of Turtle Heart. To enter the giveaway, comment about a friendship that has changed you. Giveaway closes on October 14.