Ruth & her first spiritual mentor, her grandma.

Ruth and her first spiritual mentor - her grandma.

Growing up, I had lots of fears. Now that I’ve watch my own very imaginative son struggle with similar feelings, I realize how normal I was. Lying in the safety of my warm, middle-class home, in my giant double bed, I obsessed over thunderstorms, fire, robbers, kidnappers and things that went creepy-crawly in the night. I pondered my own mortality, thinking, “Am I really real? Is life real or is it a dream?” This was the most frightening of all of my fears.

Fortunately, I was able to discuss my fears with a kind and compassionate adult — my maternal grandmother, whose faith has always been deep and wide and uncompromising. It was she who first really talked to me about Jesus and his great sacrifice, who prayed with me for comfort and peace when I felt unsettled, and who encouraged my heartfelt, childish writings and drawings about God and Jesus.

Though I grew up in the church with loving, faithful Christian parents, when I think back on my spiritual formation, I know that it began in my room at bedtime with Grandma praying me to sleep. I learned many things from my grandma — like closing the bread bag without using one of those twisty ties or how to decorate a dining table for company — but what I remember most about her is her deep and abiding faith – a faith that continues even today at 97 in a skilled nursing facility. Philippians is a favorite book of hers, and Philippians 4:13 provides special inspiration: “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Even as her body and mind fail her, Grandma still embodies what it means to be a Christian.

Who were your spiritual mentors? Who provided a context or foundation for you to discuss spiritual issues as a child? From where did your initial impressions of God & Jesus come? And how would your children answer these questions? Are there adults in their life who provide a kind of spiritual leadership?

-Ruth Cole Burcaw, Co-Chair
Children & Family Life Commission