Photo: Ruth Goring and a childhood friend from Colombia
Written by Ruth Goring, author of Adriana’s Angels
Years ago I came up with the kernel of a story about a little girl and her guardian angels, who with great attentiveness and a touch of wry humor were protecting her day by day and making sure she was nurtured by God’s love.
The anecdote that started me off starred Annie, the toddler daughter of friends; her brothers had raced toy cars off the edge of their house’s loft, not knowing that their little sister was just below. Beautifully, the cars fell to either side of Annie without even grazing her. Her dad told me, “Annie’s angels did a good job.”
Several people told me the story I wrote showed promise, but it hadn’t ripened yet.
In 2003, when I met a little Colombian girl named Adriana who with her parents and brother had had to flee threats of violence in their home region, it struck me that she was the proper protagonist and the events of this story should be rooted in her life. I wrote up the new version, and her mom read it and talked about it with her. The next time I saw her, she ran up and threw her arms around me. Adriana’s Angels had been born.
It was natural to make sleep an important element in the story. My daughter is adopted from Colombia; before she was brought to my missionary parents’ orphanage, she suffered extreme hunger and neglect in another institution for her first six months of life. I quickly realized that her needs were much more than I could meet: she flew into rages at the drop of a hat, and the affection I provided was never enough to calm and comfort her in those moments. But bedtime was usually peaceful. Of course I read to her, just as my parents had read to my siblings and me every night—and we prayed together and I sang to her.
As she got sleepy her defenses would come down. Sometimes she would confess her failings or talk about things that were bothering her. Usually she would ask me to sing “Children of the Heavenly Father”—pretty soon I had all six stanzas memorized! And every night she said, “Pray that I won’t have bad dreams.”
Claire knew that sleep was a significant part of her life. God’s Spirit could speak in her dreams and calm the inner storms.
And so Adriana too receives blessings at night as her guardian angels soothe her traumatic memories and whisper God’s love in her dreams.
Ruth Goring grew up in a large, lively missionary family in Colombia. In recent years she has provided accompaniment and advocacy to peace communities in that country. Currently she serves on the board of Colombia Vive Chicago. She has published two books of poetry, Soap Is Political (Glass Lyre) and Yellow Doors (WordFarm), and several Bible study guides, including Heart Renewal (WaterBrook) and Singleness (InterVarsity Press). Ruth is a senior manuscript editor at University of Chicago Press and teaches in the Graham School’s editing certificate program.