I offer this prayer today as we await and expect the arrival of Joseph Byron Durham, III:
Grant Byron the steady gaze to see everything good thing you do today. Make him able to live fully, to feel fully, from joy to fear to awe to surprise to gladness to love. May he feel everything between these and other stirring movements. Give him the ability to help Karen and grant that he might be filled with every necessary gift for all that awaits. Help him listen and act with grace and tenderness and with more love than his best actions before today. Give him gifts for this day and for each day following. Walk out the paths before him, and when he looks ahead, let him see your footprints in every possible direction. Shine light in dark places for the rest of his life because his life is different after Joe comes. It is already different with the baby on the other side of all that skin and muscle and warmth, waiting to come down through all those contractions. Hover over Byron so that he might sense you in places that he hasn’t. Give him witnesses of your abiding, unconditional love. Convince him again and again that what he does matters greatly but that your love comes despite his best or his worst.
For Karen, give her a full sense of your nearness. Keep company with her and grant that she may feel closer to you—and not only to her son or her husband—than she ever has. Pull her into the experience of labor. Shower her with good words and impressions and nudges and pictures as she does what is the tough work of receiving this next joyous gift from you. Sprinkle her throughout this day with more than hope for the good future you’ve assured. Help her to receive every help and gesture as from your hand. Give her strong gratitude. Give her ever stronger peace that is unshakable. Through the movements of this day, give her vision for all the tomorrows you’ve prepared for her, for them. Inspire her. Build in her increasing courage. May her breaths be prayers. Each one a tiny theophany. Grant her the splendid and sparkling blessing of closeness with you, her God and her Rock. May she and Byron be strength for one another. May Karen get all the grace she needs for every next step.
Will you bless Joe with all the memories necessary to live the rest of his life with and for you? Collect in his ears, his heart, and his spirit, the voice of your spirit, the abiding comfort of your company, and the life that always comes from you. Send him into this side of life with increasing joy and purpose, both coming from you. You have counted his days before this day. May even he come knowing that in unsearchable, deep ways. Lay within his belly an appetite for you and your things. Lift his vision to you, even as he looks through the good models of his parents and his family and his friends. May he know that his life has been surrounded by words spoken in your ears about him. May he never feel alone or unloved or unwanted. Grant that he will accept all the love you’ve provided. May he follow the instructions you give, through his parents and through every other good gift that comes from you. Protect him from the plans of all his enemies. Make them your enemies because you win all your battles. Kiss him righteousness and bravery and set his face in the direction of fruitfulness. Be his present and his future.
In Christ’s name,