By Becky Ramsey
I’m terribly afraid of heights. But a few years ago when I took our kids to camp, I temporarily lost my mind. I agreed to climb a rope ladder to a platform high in the sky so that my young partner and I could throw ourselves off and zipline down. As I crawled across the platform, Lizzie clapped her hands for me. “YOU DID IT MISS BECKY! YOU DID IT!”
I smiled. “I don’t like heights,” I said to the guide.
“You’re welcome to hold onto the pole,” she said. I hugged it like a long lost boyfriend.
Once the safety lines were secure, it was time to step away from the pole.
“I’m nervous,” I told Lizzie.
Lizzie nodded. “I can tell.” Then she shouted to the crowd of kids below, “HEY Y’ALL! MISS BECKY IS SCARED!”
The kids started chanting, “BECKY! BECKY! BECKY!” Then they encouraged me with shouts like, “GOD CAN HELP YOU BE BRAVE!”
“WE BELIEVE IN YOU, MISS BECKY”
“YOU CAN DO IT MISS BECKY!”
“GO MISS BECKY GO! GO MISS BECKY GO!”
At the count of three, Lizzie and I flew through the sky! And guess what? We did not die! And as we returned to the crowd to take off our helmets and gear, three dozen kids gave me hugs and high fives. “I knew you could do it!” they said with big grins and slaps on my back.
I’m writing this on the day we were supposed to board the buses and return to Camp Prism, but the corona virus cancelled all of that, so if I sound melancholy, that’s why. But I’m grateful I can still experience my favorite spiritual practice, even if it has to happen through Zoom and socially distanced driveway visits: the practice of watching and listening to children.
When I share with other adults that watching and listening to kids connects me to God, they often say something like, “Yeah, kids say the cutest things.” But cuteness has nothing to do with it. Wherever we are, whether at worship, basketball games, school programs, at camp or just eating doughnuts before Sunday school, I get to watch them as they step away from the safety of the pole—their homes and families—and step into our bigger existence. I get to witness their bravery as they take on a world full of uncertainty and power, of beauty and danger, of disappointment and big dreams. As they bravely try to figure out who God made them to be, so often I find myself on holy ground.
I see holy bravery …
…as they thrust themselves into the sacred stories we share with them and ask honest questions. If Jesus healed people then, why doesn’t God always do it now?
… as they stand before our entire congregation and pray prayers they’ve written themselves.
… as we sing Christmas carols to the homebound and the younger kids break into dance because they can’t help it, even as the fifth graders shake their heads in embarrassment.
… as all their hands go up when I ask for prayer requests. No one spends effort weighing whether their requests are worthy. If their grandma or neighbor’s great uncle or their hamster needs prayer, they ask!
… as they argue, as they forgive, as they embarrass themselves and get up and try again.
I watch them as they grow into this world that values being the best, the first, the one with the most stuff, and I pray that they’ll keep being brave—and that they can help us adults be brave too. I’m so grateful that kids bring me to God’s side. And I’m sure that if they were here, they’d have some words to share with you.
“GOD CAN HELP YOU CAN BE BRAVE!”
“WE BELIEVE IN YOU!”
“YOU CAN DO IT, ADULTS!”
“GO ADULTS, GO! GO ADULTS, GO!”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.