Tomorrow Sophia will be two months old. One thing that I have learned in my two months of fatherhood is the value of prayer.
Let's be clear on our terms. I am not a religious person, but I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe that there is a singular Truth out there, and my spiritual journey centers around discovering that Truth. I am unsure of the existence of gods and goddesses and their natures. But one thing I believe in with certainty is the value of prayer and meditation. I think there is something encoded in the deep structures of our minds that cries out for this sort of reboot. Having a baby has only cemented this belief. Having a baby almost requires you to reach out for something beyond yourself that is bigger and stronger and wiser... something transcendent.
When I was outside the operating room waiting to attend my wife's caesarean section, I prayed. I uttered the prayer for protection and the litany against fear over and over. I was terrified, and focusing and retraining my mind using these exercises calmed me down. I was able to be a strong support for my wife to lean on as they worked on her.
When Sophia emerged from her mother's belly, I was momentarily struck by all the blood and gore, but my prayers of thanksgiving blew that away like the seeds of a dandelion.
In the days that followed, I prayed for strength, clarity of mind, resourcefulness, energy, and confidence, and those things came to me.
Now, when Sophia screams in all hours of the night (ear infection), prayer keeps me grounded and patient. When she just won't go to sleep, and I am stuck watching infomercials all night, prayer keeps me awake and loving. And when she smiles or laughs at me, I am grateful.
This is what I have learned from two months of fatherhood. If there was no such thing as prayer, a parent would have to invent it.