In light of her work as an anchor and correspondent at ABC News, Linsey Davis has to cover some dark events on the national and world stage. But on the homefront, she finds hope and inspiration with her husband and their young son, Ayden.
In fact, Ayden is her muse in her recent career of writing faith-based children’s books. Her first one, “The World is Awake,” earned a Christopher Award – and her latest, “How High is Heaven,” addresses a question many parents of young children have to deal with when a loved one dies. Linsey joined me on “Christopher Closeup” (podcast below) to discuss the inspiration behind that story, along with her life and work in general.
When Ayden was five years old, he noticed that many of his friends had four grandparents, but he only had two (Linsey’s mom and dad). He asked her why, so she told him that her husband’s mother, Grandma P, died when he was only one and now lives in heaven. Her son declared, “I want to go see her in heaven!”
Linsey explained they couldn’t do that, then thought his interest in the topic would go away. But two months later, they were on a plane together when Ayden peered out the window and noted he was searching for his Grandma P. He said, “I thought while we were up here in heaven we were going to see her.”
Linsey realized that Ayden’s questions about his grandmother in heaven were likely a common question that parents had to deal with, so she turned it into a new book, “How High is Heaven,” illustrated by Lucy Fleming.
Linsey said, “It’s a whimsical look at one little boy’s path in trying to see his grandmother again. Can he take a hot air balloon or a pogo stick or a trampoline or a spaceship [to heaven]? Then, [he realizes,] ultimately through the arc of the story…that’s not how you get to heaven…I would say the one thing that comforted my son was the idea of a reunion, that he would see her again and that this was not goodbye, but see you later.”
When she started working on the book, Linsey had no idea the toll that COVID-19 would take on society. But in light of the statistic that 25% of people who died of the disease were primary caregivers, the topic struck her as both timely and relevant.
Linsey appreciates the fresh perspective on life and the world that she gains from her son. She said, “With adults, we can start seeing things too big picture, where kids see things on a granular level and appreciate some of the little things that we’ve stopped seeing or appreciating or thinking about. So I’m glad to have that kind of grounding, if you will, and that way of appealing to our better angels.”
Though Linsey’s Christian faith serves as the foundation of her personal life, she remains committed to journalistic objectivity and neutrality when reporting the news. When a subject’s faith is relevant to a news story, however, she is fine with including it.
Linsey explained, “With what I do as a journalist, there is a separation of church and state, literally with me…When I’m sitting in the anchor chair or out with my reporter notebook, I tend to keep the two very separate. When I think [faith] comes into play, [for instance,] I was just talking a while ago about one of the earthquakes that happened in Haiti. We were there on a Sunday, so we did go to church, to see where people were still showing their faith. I did think that was important to highlight in that kind of moment. What are people clinging to? What’s keeping them resilient? Same thing with the tornadoes that happened in Kentucky. We were there on a Sunday and so went to church.
“I think that when something is very authentic and organic,” continued Linsey, “with the look, this is what people are doing – they’re praying and they’re praying for other people, and the church is bringing refugees in – I do like to highlight that. There was a helicopter pilot in Philadelphia recently. The helicopter crashed [Ed. note: everyone survived]. He was bringing a baby to CHOP, the Children’s Hospital there in Pennsylvania. And he said, ‘God was my co-pilot.’ That’s the kind of thing that, because he said it and he believed it, I felt like, let’s definitely include that. Because that was his truth and that’s what he’s giving the credit to today. So, yes, let’s highlight that. I think that’s fair.”
At the end of the day (literally), Linsey always makes time to get grounded in God and prayer. She said, “I am a person of tradition and ritual, so every night before I go to bed, I’m still on my knees and thanking God for all of the blessings and [praying about] those things that concern me, that are weighing on my heart. I’m asking for understanding or for help or whatever it might be. When I wake up, I tend to read from two different daily meditation books…Sometimes I’m almost checking it off the list, but I need to let that word sink in and process it and keep it with me throughout the day. But for sure, at the end of the day and the evening is like a little set aside time, right,before bed, to give some thanksgiving and sometimes, like I said, trying to get some help with a concern or praying for other people.”
(To listen to my full interview with Linsey Davis, click on the podcast link):