I was born in the ‘nightie’ age. Sleepers had not yet been invented. So every night I was tucked in bed with a nightie wrapped around me and pulled down to cover my toes. Yet at the end of every nap, according to my mother, my nightie would be pulled up to cover my face. So I felt secure. So I could sleep.

I see the same pattern in my grandchildren. Most have needed something soft in order to get through their early years – blankets, cuddle-bears, teddy bears….

And in some we have seen rituals – shoes needing to be lined up, words spoken the same way in each similar situation, schedules that can’t be varied in the least degree. All to stave off unknown dangers.

Isn’t it sad that human beings are born with such a residual amount of fear? I remember it in myself, I saw it in my children, and it now touches very deep chords indeed as I see it in my grandchildren. It breaks my heart.

And who can soothe away these fears with promises of safety in anything close to an absolute sense?

That would be a fairy tale. A turning of the back to Scripture. A lie.

That is one reason we grandparents are so much more compassionate and tender with our grandchildren than we were with our children. We are more aware of the nature of evil, the repercussions of the Fall. As CS Lewis said, who can stand unmoved and see infants that, as children of Christian parents, are called to fight against the world, the flesh and the devil throughout their lives – which have barely begun.

Poor little ones. Privileged little ones.

That dichotomy of life now.

As small children begin to realize the terms of life, they need so very much encouragement and comfort. So do the big ones. (And us, the biggest, for that matter)

May we comfort and strengthen them well, showing them God’s own compassion. Even more importantly, may we encourage them to go directly to God for peace and strength from the time they are tiny.

May it become the routine of their life to – first thing, and in every situation – cry out to the God of All Comfort.