It is a cold November night, but I needed to walk, so I called for my dog Gizmo and invited our son Dominyk (12) to join me. On nights like these there is no need to worry about encountering other walkers with dogs, or other walkers for that matter. It is a solitary pursuit, but not really, because Dominyk is gregarious. He never quits talking. Toward the end of tonight's walk he asked me, "So, dad, when you die what happens to your brain?"
"Well, since your body doesn't need it any more it stops working."
"No, I mean, what happens to your brain when it's been in the ground for a few weeks?"
"Umm, I suppose it kind of shrinks and decays. When your body is dead it doesn't work anymore."
"So your brain doesn't go to heaven?"
"Well, none of your body goes to heaven. Your spirit goes to be with God, but your body is finished with its work and it stays in the ground. You don't need your brain anymore at that point."
"Your brain doesn't get to go to heaven?"
"No, Dominyk. Just your spirit, that part of you that makes you who you are and that lives forever."
"Well, without a brain how do we recognize other people?"
"You don't need a brain to do that in heaven."
"So how do you know, then?"
"Umm, I'm not sure exactly. But at that point there must be a different way of knowing that we'll know about then."
"You don't know the answer to this?"
"No, Dominyk. There are some questions in life that we cannot answer right now."
"You're a priest for heaven's sake, and you can't even answer that question? You're supposed to know that stuff!"
I am grateful for the reminder that we feeble humans, even we humans who have been theologically trained and spiritually disciplined, do not have all the answers. Even if, for a twelve-year-old, it kind of wrecks your credibility.