A lesson on prayer...
I sat quietly by her isolette as the machines offered their beeps and whooshes. I breathed in the medicinal scents and breathed out prayers. I sang to her, touched her little feet, and just waited. The waiting was long- two-and-a-half months- but each day brought us closer to her homecoming. I watched as other babies came and went, and other parents cried and laughed, all the while treasuring even the slightest interaction with my little one-and-a-half pounder. Her hand barely covered my fingernail; her cry was a kittenish one; her fully-opened diaper was the size of a postcard; her chances for overcoming the dozens of hurdles in her path were slim.
But we waited.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh, the falling of a tear, the upward glancing of an eye, when none but God is near.
There were many times I couldn't pray. I was weary, emotionally raw and too much in pain from my csection to think straight. I felt buoyed up by the prayers of friends and family, but at some deep level I wondered what those prayers meant.
There were prayers for Madalyn's healing. What if she didn't survive?
There were prayers for my strength. Why did I feel as if I couldn't get out of bed?
There were prayers for each milestone to be met. What if she didn't meet any?
I was painfully aware of the fact that I would not allow myself to think beyond each day. I didn't want to look forward to birthday parties that would never happen, hugs I might not receive, pony tails I wouldn't be able to put in her hair, if...if...
I found myself asking my mom this question as she cared for me,
"What if she doesn't make it through unscathed; will you love her just as much?"
I was so in love with this little skin-and-bones miracle and I was petrified that others wouldn't see her as I did, or even worse, that if something were to happen, even I wouldn't love her as I should. Only when I finally heard God amidst my fear did I relax into mothering this child:
As I love you with your weaknesses and shortcomings, so will you love her, no matter what.
When we try to express communion with God in words, our minds quickly come up short. But, in the depths of our being, through the Holy Spirit, Christ is praying far more than we imagine.
Brother Roger of Taize
That was the moment I learned the true value of prayer. I didn't need a "yes" to my requests, I simply needed to know they were heard. I didn't need Madalyn to be perfect, I simply needed to know that God was in her imperfections. I didn't didn't even need her to survive to understand that prayer was about me and God and how I let Him be my peace. The lessons I learned amidst the machines as I sat near my tiny daughter forever changed my view of God, prayer and unconditional love.
As I look at my petite 4-year-old, I remember all that I felt. She did come through unscathed, nothing short of a miracle, but what I see now is that the real miracle was within me- my acceptance, my letting go, my peace. She is who God made her to be, and part of her purpose here was to teach her mom the most precious of lessons.