This past September my sister gave my youngest daughter, age seven, a crucifix for her birthday. No, neither my sister nor I are Catholic, but we both respect other denominations and often intermingle various religious customs in our own to enhance our spirituality. The crucifix she picked out was silver with pink beads, and it came stored in a sweet little ceramic dish in the shape of a bed with a child sleeping in it, holding a bunny. Very child-friendly. She felt that this gift was appropriate for my daughter because she has displayed an ease at talking with God and "connecting" to Him through prayer and the songs she writes . . . ("Heart of Gold" topping the list as my favorite.) When she opened the gift, she kinda knew what it was, but my sister explained more fully what a crucifix was and its use during prayer. She then gave her a simplified way to use it with prayer: just hold it while praying and use it to help feel closer to God. Simple enough . . . even though some Catholics might be in an uproar by now at this modified usage!
She doesn't use it very much, but it sits in its ceramic dish on her nightstand day after day, a sort of zen spot amid the cluttered mess of her extremely disorganized room. One night, though, I walked in to say goodnight and tell her that her Daddy would be in soon to say prayers with her (as is the nightly ritual), when I noticed she had her crucifix out and cradled in her hand, in the dark. She asked me to sit down and tell her of any prayer requests I had. I was a little thrown off, since I had never heard her say the words "prayer requests" before, but I sat down and smiled, knowing that my heart was in fact a bit troubled by a particular issue that day in which I had not yet prayed for help. For a moment I was tickled at the situation; it felt as if I was going into a Catholic confessional, and she was there to listen in the cloak of darkness, as if I was one of many people who would be passing through her room that night seeking peace and redemption. But I quickly reminded myself that God had simply stirred in her heart, and without her questioning it, she asked me to tell her my requests, so I did . . . to my child . . . but really to God (while we both touched the rosary): "I pray that my body feels better very soon and that I stop worrying about it." That was all I said; then I asked her for a prayer request, and she chirpily replied, "Oh, I don't really have any. I just wanted you to say one." Well, well, well, was I caught off-guard. That was the whole purpose . . . my prayer for myself, with my daughter (the power of two or more). Children are so open to the divine when it calls. And she, unknowingly, answered the calling of God to specifically ask to pray with me and for me.
I thank God every day for the blessings of my children! Amen!