Filmmaker, actress and New York Times bestselling author Roma Downey has a message for parents raising children in these dark times: “Turn off the news, hold your kids and pray.”
The Emmy-nominated actress of the series “Touched By An Angel,” penned a new book for parents to read with their little ones, titled, A Message in the Moon. She wrote the book in honor of her father, Paddy Downey, who raised her as a single parent following her mother's death when she was just 10 years old.
"When I left Ireland to go to college, my dad took me outside and pointed to the moon and he said, 'Listen, if you ever get homesick, if you miss me, you got to remember that it's the same moon that’s shining down on you, is shining down on me. So, we're always connected by the same moon and if you're missing me, I will leave you a message in the moon,'” Downey shared in an interview with The Christian Post.
She said that every time she felt homesick, she checked out the sky, saw the moon and picked up her father's message there.
"Even though my father is long gone, he passed away many years ago, I still pick up his messages of love with the moon,” the film and TV producer said.
Downey starts off her book with a message of hope for all children to hold on to.
"At night we see the moon shining bright, but did you know it doesn't produce its own glow? It's a reflection of the sun's light. Imagine, if we all left messages of love on the moon and then let the moon do what the moon does best, reflect that love back to the world. Moonlight could become love light and we would all remember just how much we are loved.”
The producer behind the history-making “Bible” series said she wishes for the moon to be a “connector” for families.
"I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to create a children's book, using the moon as a connector to help little children that are feeling any kind of anxiety about separation that they're feeling in any way,” Downey shared. “For all the reasons that little kids get anxiety around separation, they can use the moon as the reminder that they're not alone, and as a reminder that they're loved and connected.”
Downey partnered with Holly Hatom for the book’s illustrations.
"It's my hope that maybe this little book will start a legacy of love with the moon, remembering that the moon has no light source, it's only a reflection of the sun's light. In many ways, we are not the source, God is our source, and that we all need to be a reflection of His love, she continued.
"Symbols are very important because the days are full of a million images, and if you can see this one thing, and it reminds you of this good feeling and feeling safe, it's a good thing.”
Downey, a professing Christian, also spoke about the significance of the cross for believers in Jesus.
"As Christians, we have the symbol of the cross, and it brings so much comfort and strength. It's a reminder of this unconditional love that the Lord had for us,” the famous Hollywood star said. “With my book about the moon, the moon is there whether we can see it or not. In the daytime, the moon is there even in a cloudy sky, we just can't always see it.
"It's a little bit like the love of God. We can't always see that. I mean, we feel it through the kindness and goodness of others, usually, so it's just there as a reminder. It's a strong symbol, I think, for little kids, and something sweet to be able to say, 'I've left you a message in the moon.'”
Downey, who has a grown daughter and two grown stepsons, said her children are no longer young, but she remembers how important it was for her to safeguard her family.
"I was thinking this week, with all the bad news and painful news out in the Middle East, people have the news on, and we want to know what's going on, we want to know how we can help. Everybody's glued to the TV and you forget that the little kids are in the room,” Downey noted.
“What are they hearing? What are they listening to? What impact is that having on their little lives? Because they can't quite comprehend it,” she continued. "I would encourage parents, first of all, maybe if your kids are in the room, turn the TV off when the bad news comes on. They don't need to know that."
Quoting Fred Rogers of the famous "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" PBS children's television show, Downey said: “He used to say that his mom said when bad news happened, a way to help reframe it for the kids was to look for the helpers. There are always helpers. So if the news has to be on, the kids can start saying, 'Oh yeah, look, there's somebody helping, or there's an ambulance.' To remind them that there are good people doing good things.”
She added, "For the most part, I would encourage parents to turn that news off. The kids don't need that in their heads. And get into the habit at bedtime of holding your kid, and praying with your kid, and reading to your child as precious, precious times together,” Downey told CP.
While she no longer reads to her children, Downey said she's looking forward to the day when she gets to tell her grandchildren about the moon, as her father did with her.
"At night we see the moon shining bright, but did you know it doesn't produce its own glow? It's a reflection of the sun's light. Imagine, if we all left messages of love on the moon and then let the moon do what the moon does best, reflect that love back to the world? Moonlight could become love light and we would all remember just how much we are loved.”
Downey’s book, A Message In The Moon ends with a prayer:
"Dear God, thank you for creating the moon as a reminder of your love and the love of those we cherish here on Earth. Each time the moonlight reaches me God, it's like a hug from Heaven. Help me Never forget that even though I can't see love. I can feel it and carry with me in my heart."
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic