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Dayenu - "It Would Have Been Enough"

deep health integrated life prayer resilience Apr 16, 2023


In the ancient Jewish liturgy of the Passover Seder, there is a moment when the family gathered recalls the provision of God throughout history. Throughout this retelling, a refrain is repeated: dayenu. A Hebrew word meaning, “it would have been enough.” If the Lord had only delivered us from bondage in Egypt, dayenu. If He had only provided manna in the desert, dayenu. 

When I look at the past decade of my life, I can begin to feel a bit like Job. Pregnancies that ended in the pain of miscarriage. Friends who moved away. A global pandemic. Family strife. And then, worst of all, the sudden death of my beloved husband, which plunged me into a darkness and grief from which I am just beginning to emerge.

Reliance & Surrender 

And yet… I am grateful. For the past decade has also brought innumerable blessings. The births of three healthy and beautiful children. Fulfilling work as a catechist and musician and writer. New friends. Spiritual growth. A deeper knowledge of the redemptive work of suffering. More profound reliance on prayer, and understanding of my own limitations. Surrender.

Jesus says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-20, RSV-CE)

Looking at my life as it is, I could fall into despair about the past and anxiety about the future. Or I can practice simple gratitude as I pray…

If You had only shown me the path to the Catholic faith… dayenu.

If You had only allowed me to marry my best friend… dayenu.

If You had only given me one child… dayenu.

If I only had easy access to the Eucharist… dayenu.

If I only had a wonderful community to support me… dayenu.

If I only knew Jesus… dayenu.

If I could only pray the rosary… dayenu.

If I only had good health and plenty to eat… dayenu.

With each line, I remind myself of the abundance of God’s mercy, that while He could have stopped blessing me at any point, He is still not finished! His work in my life is far from complete. I will continue my litany of dayenu until the day I pass through the gates of Heaven and am reunited with my Savior and all those dear souls who have gone ahead.

Elizabeth Blanke is a nature-loving homeschool mama to three delightful redheads. She is passionate about good food, liturgical living, and building authentic Catholic community. She writes for the popular women's online devotional Blessed is She, and shares her musings on grief and hope on Instagram    @elizaraxi.

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