“Do you mind if we stop at the church for a couple of minutes?” I asked my nephew.
“To say hi to Jesus.” He said nothing. “Do you?” I said as I turned on my blinker. I asked again as I pulled into the parking lot. He remained silent.

We walked into the sanctuary, the heavy fragrance of incense making me close my eyes and breath deeply. For a few minutes, we knelt and then sat back in the pew. It was completely quiet and empty. The stillness in striking contrast with the usual full bustle of a Sunday morning Mass.

I turned to say something to my nephew and saw that he sat there with eyes closed and hands folded. And so I waited in the weight of silence until he suddenly turned to me and asked if we could go.

We spoke for a little bit about the silence, spent some time reading about St. John the Beloved on his feast day, and then I asked if we could pray for a friend of mine who was suffering from an illness that was lasting years. It was her birthday and she was on my heart and mind throughout the day. So I offered a brief intention for her and my sister before asking if he had anything to add.

In the interesting cross-section of thinker and feeler that he is, he prayed for her family because it must be hard for them that she has been sick for so long. My heart grew in love for this little man, this godson of mine who thought tenderly about the family of this woman he had never met, perhaps considering how he would feel if something similar happened in his own family.

Heart moved, we bowed our heads and offered a short Hail Mary before leaving the pew, genuflecting, and dipping fingers into the lukewarm holy water. Walking into the winter sunshine, we got back in my car. He knocked Three Musketeer wrappers into the parking lot and then had to lean precariously out of the car to pick them back up.

I drove the short distance home, chatting about something forgettable. But my heart kept stirring over the beauty that was sparked by asking my nephew the simple question, “What would you like to pray for?”

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