Author Gail Kittleson is my guest today. Gail is here to share with us about where faith and fiction collide. Enjoy!
Some viewers might consider Fried Green Tomatoes a movie about friendship rather than faith, but there’s a scene where Ruth’s volatile, abusive husband threatens to steal their baby. Shaken to the core, she says something like, “You know, I’ve faced a rough time before, and back then, all I could do was pray. But if he ever tries this again, I’ll…”
Her specific words don’t really matter—trust me, they promise action! Now for Ruth, a quiet, gentle woman, this statement shows a real turn-around. Normally, she wouldn’t think of employing the word she used to describe her vicious, self-serving husband, or of hurting another human being.
But the thought of him taking that precious baby brings out the worst in her … or is it the best? In matters of faith and action, sometimes it’s hard to tell. The Apostle James spurs believers to do something to prove their faith. He makes it clear that “faith without works isdead.” That’s pretty strong stuff.
Kate Isaacs, the heroine of my latest World War II novel, the second in the Women of the Heartland Series, has a moment something like Ruth’s.Suddenly, she understands an ancient religious tenet much more deeply. Because she’s one of the Greatest Generation women, making do in dire circumstances comes naturally.
But in this particular scene, she’s just been interrogated by a Nazi officer, taken to a safe place, and told she’s leaving for another location this very night. She’s not used to this hit-and-miss type of notification, but this time, she’s become ensconced in a Southern French household. She’s become part of the family, and one boy seems like the younger brother she never had.
An orphan with no siblings, this fresh order strikes at her heart chords. She’s already grown close to a little orphaned Jewish girl at her last locale—and before she joined this fight, she suffered a miscarriage. The griefs are piling up.
What does Kate do? Typically, she finds a task to complete, and that work leads to an epiphany. I’ll share part of the scene, so you can enter into her experience.
(Out back sprawled a woodpile, so she found a wood box faded an odd shade of blue—something to keep her busy. Back and forth, she filled the cavernous wooden trunk and low-slung iron arms beside the fireplace. Every load lightened her spirit. On her next-to-last trip, words came to her, silent but strong.
Your real life is hidden with Christ in God—last Sunday’s text in Celeste’s small home church, read with great enthusiasm by an elderly pastor. The French version helped Kate rethink the meaning, and now, she lifted her eyes to the spires just as sunshine broke through the cloud cover.
“I’m like you, a long time in the making. But there you stand, whole and beautiful. I must not let this lost feeling overwhelm me.”)
Ahhh…the action she must take, leaving for another post, finds credence in the action she takes at the woodpile. Through touching rough logs and filling a need, her faith embraces what her helter-skelter life calls for right now. The great cathedral spires in the distance take on new meaning for Kate, and she’s able to rise above her sadness with fresh energy for whatever comes next.
Sounds a bit like Ruth in Fried Green Tomatoes. The terror of an egomaniac’s threat exacerbates, but then roots out her fear. Her love for her baby and her determination bring her to a new level of action—faith at work—she’s no longer a victim.
About With Each New Dawn:
Kate Isaac grieves her husband, awaits their child’s birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie to London. But after her miscarriage, a meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain’s Secret Operations Executive(SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.
Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who with his dying breath, reveals his familial connection to Kate.
In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo and Kate find his younger brother Gabirel missing. While Domingo seeks Gabirel, Domingo’s parish priest, Père Gaspard, creates a new identity for Kate.
United once again, Kate and Domingo subject their mutual attraction to the cause. But can mere human will and moral courage change the war’s tide and forge a future for them?