Eric stood in the darkened living room, looking out the window at the lighted spires of the temple on the hill. It was wonderful to have the temple so near.
Now that his family had moved, the temple was within walking distance, instead of several hundred miles away. In fact, his mother had walked there tonight.
Eric’s father came into the room. “Time for bed, son.” He glanced out the window, then quickly pulled the curtains shut.
“I was looking at the temple,” Eric said. “It’s beautiful when it’s all lit up. Don’t you think so?”
“Sure,” Dad answered gruffly. “Now head up to bed.”
Eric went upstairs to his room and began to undress. He was worried about his father. Several years ago, Dad had been an active member of the Church and had gone with Mom to the temple often. Now he never went to church with his family, and Mom attended the temple alone.
Eric finished putting on his pajamas and knelt beside his bed. “Heavenly Father,” he prayed, “please help us find a way to help Dad go back to church.”
It was the same thing Eric had prayed about since he was seven years old. Now, even after three years, he hadn’t given up.
When Eric finished his prayer, he climbed into bed. He stared at the dark ceiling, thinking. After a while, he heard Mom come upstairs. She poked her head into his room. “Are you still awake?”
“Yes—I can’t go to sleep.”
Mom walked in and sat down on the bed. “What’s bothering you?”
“Why did Dad stop going to church?”
Mom took a deep breath. “One of the ward members said something that offended him. He’s never been able to forgive that person.”
“Do you think he’ll ever decide to go back to church?”
“I don’t know. I pray for him all the time.”
“I pray for him too.” Tears began to well up in Eric’s eyes, and he brushed them away. He could see that his mother was crying too. She put her arms around him.
“Heavenly Father loves your dad,” she said. “He knows what he needs. We have to pray and then listen to what Heavenly Father tells us to do.”
Suddenly Eric thought of something. “Mom, I have to give a talk in Primary next Sunday. I think I’ll invite Dad to come and hear it.”
“That’s a good idea,” his mother answered. “But don’t be too disappointed if he doesn’t.” She squeezed his hand. “Good night, Eric.”
“Good night, Mom.”
The next morning, Eric felt like his insides were ready to burst. He had decided that he’d give a talk about why he loved to go to church. Then, when Dad came to hear it, maybe he’d remember all the good feelings he used to have a long time ago.
When he found Dad alone in the bedroom, he felt that it was just the right time to talk to him. “Dad,” he began, “I’m giving a talk in Primary next Sunday. I’d really like you to come and hear it.”
Dad didn’t look up from the shoelace he was working on. “I’m sorry, son—I can’t come.” He looked up at Eric. “But you can practice your talk on me. I’ll be glad to listen, no matter how many times you want to practice giving it!”
That night, Eric wrote his talk. It was the most difficult one he had ever written, because he was writing it “to” his dad. He wrote about the good feelings he had when he went to Primary and Sacrament meeting. He didn’t write anything about wishing Dad would come to church, even though he wanted to.
When he had finished, he went to find Dad. Halfway down the stairs he stopped. Dad was sitting quietly in front of the living room window, staring out. Was he doing the same thing Eric had done the night before? Was he looking at the temple? Eric turned and went back upstairs. Practicing the talk could wait.
That week, Eric practiced his talk many times on Dad, praying each time that something he said in it would make Dad want to come to church on Sunday.
But when Sunday finally came, only his mother and his sister, Lisa, were there to hear him. Eric had a hard time giving the talk. He had to keep swallowing to keep from crying.
On the way home, Eric stared out the car window. He had wanted so much for his dad to go to church. Finally he said, “I’d like to walk around the temple this afternoon.”
“Me, too,” said Lisa. “We talked about temples in my Primary class.”
“That’s a good idea” Mom agreed. “It’s such a beautiful day—that would be a perfect Sunday thing to do.”
When the family was seated at the dinner table, Eric told his father. “After dinner, we’re going for a walk around the temple. Do you want to come too?”
Eric’s father chewed for a minute. Then he spoke. “I’d like that.”
Eric felt warm all over as they walked together on the temple grounds. They didn’t talk as they walked, but Mom and Dad were holding hands, and he could tell that they felt something special too.
After they had walked for a while, Dad stopped them. “I want to talk to all of you. How about sitting down over there?”
They sat down on a bench, and Dad sat on the grass beside them. “I don’t know how to explain this,” he began. “Since we moved here, the temple has been, well, ‘following’ me. I see it out the windows of the house. I drive past it on my way to work. It stands over me when I’m taking the garbage out to the curb.” Tears began to stream down his cheeks. “The temple has turned on a light in my heart where there used to be only darkness.”
Eric’s heart began to pound, and tears filled his eyes too.
Dad continued, “This week, as I listened to Eric’s talk, I realized that I’ve been missing too much. I’m going to go to church again, if that’s OK with all of you.”
“Oh, Dad!” Eric cried. “It’s more than OK—it’s fantastic!” When he threw his arms around his dad, he found himself entangled with two other pairs of arms, as Lisa and Mom joined in the hug.
Dad looked up at the temple spires. “Soon I’ll be able to come here with your mom again,” he said. “But it won’t be easy. I’ll need your help and prayers.”
Eric and Mom looked at each other and smiled. “For as long as you need them, Dad,” Eric said.