Nick and I have prayed a lot in the last two years.
Before that, we weren't prayerful people. Despite our common Catholic schooling, neither of us felt a close connection to the act of praying - and both felt deterred from faith by our struggle with what "God" is. When we met at 28 and 30 years old respectively, neither of us had been to Church (save the occasional Christmas mass or funeral service) in a decade. We elected not to get married in a church in favor of a quiet, personal ceremony in a garden by the ocean officiated by our best mutual friend because it felt more like "us".
A lot can change in two years. Now, don't worry: I'm not about to step onto a soapbox about religion. We still haven't wrangled our individual notions of who or what God might be or what it is that we are praying to. Rather, we have come to a higher understanding of and appreciation for the human need for faith in something greater than oneself – and the need to take action in times of uncertainty.
When we first learned Daisy was sick in utero, we were presented with an overload of clinical information – medical journal articles, research, lists of conditions to google – and we found ourselves swimming a sea of facts and figures that told hundreds of dark stories. Our care team encouraged us not to delve too far into the information but as concerned parents, it was impossible. Every night as two in the morning turned into two thirty and then three A.M., the internet seemed to beckon me from sleep down some rabbit hole of despair. I quickly realized that I was generating a great deal of nervous energy – and that I could continue to channel it as I had been in the dreary corners of WebMD, or, I could redirect that energy into something positive.
I decided to try my hand at praying – and fortunately Nick was open and willing to join me in that endeavor. We began a nightly tradition of praying aloud side by side in bed before sleep. We purchased a prayer journal where we would write open messages to God or the universe and paste things we’d printed from the internet or torn from books. We chose prayers, poems and meditations from all religions – anything that spoke to us and felt appropriate for our situation or what we were feeling in the moment.
We focused our prayers on asking for strength and grace to handle whatever came our way with love and acceptance. We acknowledged the small wins in each day and the things to be grateful for in the midst of difficult circumstances – like the blessing of a wonderful, involved and compassionate care team and the support of family and friends. We asked that Daisy be given all the faculties to survive and thrive despite any challenges medical or otherwise and vowed to do everything we could to give back to others in need and to turn our experience into a positive.
These days, we are praying for Daisy’s continued health, a positive outcome from her surgeries and for Ella’s safe arrival. The same wonderful prayer groups in our home communities of Boston and Baltimore are praying for these things too - and we couldn't be more grateful for that. I suppose we’ll never know if or how these prayers actually helped Daisy survive her harrowing journey into this world. What I do know is they helped Nick and I tremendously – feeling like perhaps there was a greater force in the universe at play and maybe, just maybe, by taking action and putting positive intentions out into the universe, that force was listening.
If you are ever interested in exploring prayer or writing your own meditations, here are some of my favorite resources:
Some guidance on writing your own prayers
Unitarian Universalist Prayers for Worship and Meditation
I love this resource because you can search by theme and source or tradition.
Buddhist Prayer for Meditation
Psalms and Jewish Prayer for Healing