Tonight, over sour cream-laden chimichangas and icy Cokes, my husband and I had our annual gift-giving budget conversation. At our house, November and December are packed with several family birthdays and, of course, the simultaneously beloved and commercially vexing: Christmas.
We sat there looking at each other saying something like, “What are we going to get him?!” We have this amount of money “to spend”, and all he wants is a flashlight and a pack of cheese. And so we look at each other realizing that everyone in our lives has everything they need and at least 90% of what they want.
And yet, we insist that we “should” get them something. It’s the thing to do, we suppose. Could we make a donation to the “Human Fund?” Rather than relaxing down into the pool of gratitude, we stress upwards into obligation and wrack our brains for more, more, more.
In Ed Dobson’s The Year of Living Like Jesus, there is a lovely Jewish prayer taken from the Passover Seder that affected me deeply. Especially as we enter a shopping extravaganza for some of the richest people on the planet, it is words like these that make me stop and think.
“Toward the end of the story came a beautiful section entitled dayenu, a word that means “that alone would have been enough, but for that alone we are grateful.
Adoni took us out of Egypt. Dayenu.
Punished the Egyptians and destroyed their idols. Dayenu.
Divided the sea and led us across on dry land. Dayenu…
For all these–alone and together–we say Dayenu.
Dayenu is a powerful concept. It is learning to be grateful for what God has already done and not asking him to do more. For me, as a follower of Jesus, it means being grateful for what God has done through Jesus Christ in restoring me to God. Dayenu. It is getting up every day and realizing God has given me one more day to live. Dayenu. In times of economic difficulty, it is realizing that I have food on my table and clothes on my back and a warm place to live. Dayenu. It seems to me that Western Christians are always asking God for more–more money, better health, larger houses, better jobs, a boat. I want I want I want I want.
Dayenu contradicts this kind of thinking.”
Regardless of your personal beliefs and convictions surrounding Jesus or Judaism or Christmas shopping, it seems to me that we could all use a little dayenu.
A little peace.
I pray that for myself tonight, and for you.
If you are interested in what others are saying about Ed’s book, click here for a complete list of those participating in his November Blog Tour.