Over the years, it has been our delight and honor to be invited to friends’ Passover Seders. This year, as with everything else, we have to celebrate at a distance, but already I find that I am paying special attention to the joyful song “Dayenu.” “Dayenu,” which means roughly “It would have been enough,” recounts the manifold gifts bestowed by God:
If He had brought us out of Egypt and not split the sea for us, DAYENU.
If He had split the sea for us and not led us through on dry land, DAYENU.
If He had led us through on dry land and not fed us manna in the wilderness, DAYENU.
If He had fed us manna and not led us to Mount Sinai, DAYENU.
And so it goes through fifteen verses. I have always marveled that people whose history is filled with exile, pogroms, and death camps are still able to express gratitude to God for unceasing bounty and redemption.
I also think that all of us could craft our own personal songs to trace the continuing gifts God has given us, no matter what struggles and losses we have experienced over the years. Mine might go something like this:
Had He given me life but not given me a family, DAYENU.
Had He given me a family but not an education, DAYENU.
Had He given me and education but not provided meaningful work, DAYENU.
Had He given me meaningful work but no friends, DAYENU.
Had He given me friends…..
Like the original, my song could go on for many stanzas.
At the start of Lent, I began a “Gratitude Journal,” intending to note, at the end of each day, two or three specific things for which I was grateful. I held to this discipline for several weeks until the emerging pandemic swept away my routine, my optimism, and, to some extent, my faith. Yet, as I read through the Passover Haggadah I take to heart a prayer that is repeated in the course of the ceremony: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this day.”
This prayer fills me with joy; I have reached this day. The sun came up this morning. I am here; I have work to do. We can Skype with our children and talk with our friends. The trees are blooming. The future is uncertain, but for today, this is more than enough.
Appointed readings for today: