It’s a wonder where a word will take you.
In a book I’m reading, the author briefly references “Dayenu,” a song sung at Passover, recalling the kindness of God in the Exodus.
Each short verse cites an act of God — the deliverance from Egypt, the manna in the desert, the gift of the Torah. After each, the response is “dayenu,” “it would have been enough.”
Any one of those would have been enough.
It’s a song of gratitude that we might all do well to sing, a reminder of the abundance of our lives, truly more than enough.
But not everyone can honestly sing “Dayenu.” Trapped in trauma, loss and desperation, their “enough” is not the exuberant thankfulness of one brought to the land of milk and honey, but more the despondence of Elijah we find in First Kings.
Elijah condemned the ruthless rule of Israel’s King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
He called out the prophets of a false and loveless god.
With everyone out to kill him, Elijah fled to Judah and into the wilderness. Finally, under a solitary broom tree, the prophet cried out, “It is enough, now, O Lord, take away my life.”
I can understand that. Sometimes the pain, the grief and the relentless fear would drag anyone, even the greatest prophet, to their knees, begging for a merciful end because “it is enough,” and they can bear no more.
But then I see pictures of people in Ukraine, ordinary sinners and saints, raised on Resurrection and on Cossack courage.
You’d think they would be every bit as desperate and ready to surrender as Elijah, but they are not willing to utter his fateful “enough.”
I’ve seen a man looking for life in rubble that buried his wife and children. Or mothers ushering their children safely across the border and then returning to fight alongside their husbands.
What ineffable faith sustains these people? What allows them to have enough hope in tomorrow that they refuse to utter “enough” today?
And there, to the east, is the ice-hearted man who ordered the horror, deep in his delusion with no human concern for the destruction of a people he claimed as brothers.
I wonder if he demanded a blackout of the war, not just to insulate and control his citizens, but out of fear that, if he saw the brutality, the senseless loss of lives, the bombing of hospitals and homes, even he might have to say “enough.”