“Will you help me put this in there?” I was standing in the Women’s Atrium watching the pilgrims and tourists as they walked rapidly from one chapel to another taking photos and gazing at the mosaics. A woman approached me and held out a piece of canvas that had been removed from its wooden casing and gestured toward the Magdala prayer box. She wanted to put a colorfully painted piece of canvas into the box, but didn’t know how, since it only had a thin slot on top through which small pieces of paper fit.
For the last year and a half visitors have been leaving prayer intentions in our box and every week we personally pray for our visitors and the petitions they leave. I looked at the canvas, and was grateful that she hadn’t tried to force it through the small opening. It would have been impossible that way, but we found another solution. The base of the prayer box is a large drawer that can be pulled out, so we carefully folded the canvas in half and placed it inside. Her big smile told me that she was satisfied and grateful.
“It was painted by a little boy…he is too sick to travel, so he sent this… please pray for him!” I looked at the colorful image and the simple signature of a child, and marveled. A four-year-old boy who couldn’t come to the Holy Land sent a messenger and a painting on his behalf? Wow! How often does that happen?
I’m an artist, and for the last several weeks I have been waiting for inspiration. It finally came, and his name is Juan.