Dayenu

Dayenu is a Hebrew word the rabbis translate as It would have been sufficient. I prefer my translation of It is abundantly enough.

In May, I appeared on a local community access program hosted by Sandra Whippie, a retired Unitarian Universalist minister and teacher whose program is called “My Karma Ran Over My Dogma.” I met Sandra because my mother occasionally tunes in and she told me about it, suggesting Sandra would be an interesting person to get to know. So my mother called Sandra and invited her over for tea. I joined them and asked if I could be on her show. I had a great time. We had a free-wheeling hour-long conversation about spiritual matters. I bought a few copies of the DVD (eventually I will link some excerpts to this site so stay tuned) and sent one to my friend Prince in Zambia. I have sent mail to Prince before and it takes a couple of weeks but this time, no such luck. But because my life is a series of unfolding dayenus I found a solution.

I met Prince in December 2011, in Zambia where I flew to attend my cousin Gabe’s wedding to my new cousin, Tendayi, whose family lives there. (Tendayi grew up mostly in Zimbabwe but her family moved to Zambia a few years ago). After a week of deeply moving wedding events and time with Tendayi’s lovely extended family, my aunt, uncle and I traveled to the South Luangwa Valley for a safari. We stayed at two lodges in different parts of the game park, the second of which was called Chichele Presidential Lodge. (I will also post a link to the sabbath meditation I wrote about my trip to Zambia so check back soon.) At Chichele, Prince works as a game guide, taking tourists out for game drives (and walks). Each visiting party is assigned a guide for the duration of the stay. Prince was not our guide but I met him the first afternoon we arrived as I blithely strolled down the long dirt driveway from the elegant Presidential Lodge. I had a feeling that such strolls were prohibited since we had been instructed not to leave the grassy area immediately behind the back verandah and pool  since there were elephants visibly grazing in the distance. But I had been sitting in a jeep and longing to walk so I scanned the area leading to the Lodge and seeing no critters, decided to meander down the drive. It was then that Prince drove up behind me and  politely offered me a ride back to the Lodge. “It isn’t safe for you to be out here,” he said. I hopped in the jeep and went back, embarrassed by my naivete. Later that afternoon I saw Prince sitting with the other guide and I said, “There is probably a word in your local dialect for stupid tourists who wander down the driveway.” He was so sweet the way he said, “Oh no, not at all.”

That my beloved cousin Gabe married Tendayi—such an extraordinary woman, dayenu.

That I have been welcomed into Tendayi’s family, dayenu.

That I  traveled to Zambia, dayenu.

That I got to see animals in the wild, dayenu.

That I avoided a dangerous encounter with wildlife, dayenu.

That I met Prince as a result of my impish wandering, dayenu.

That Prince and I became friends, dayenu.

That evening we talked for hours about all kinds of things: economics, politics, disparity; family, work. We conversed over the next two days and cemented a friendship. So that’s how I came to mail Prince a copy of the DVD. But since it did not reach him, I thought to give another copy to Tendayi’s father, Marcus, who traveled with his family to Vermont in early August for the second part of Tendayi and Gabe’s matrimonial journey: a Jewish ceremony in the garden of his childhood home (where my aunt and uncle still live). That I got to officiate the ceremony is an uppercase dayenu unto itself. That’s the kind of blessing where I drove home thinking, if this were my last moment alive I know dayenu would be on my lips.

I figured Marcus could mail the DVD from within Zambia upon his return. But as the universe would have it, when I phoned Prince this morning (his afternoon break between game drives) he was watching the DVD with some of his work friends. “Leaf,” he exclaimed, “I am watching you on my laptop now. I went to the airport yesterday and the postmaster told me he had something for me and I knew what it was. Your DVD had arrived.” It was the copy I had mailed.

I could hear myself talking on the DVD through my iPad speaker that I used to call Prince via Skype. (It was a voice call with no video because his laptop microphone is broken so I call his cell phone using Skype).  I marvel at the interconnections that link us: how a DVD that languished in some mail bag or airplane hold made its way thousands of miles; that I could hear my voice in Zambia; that a gentle wise young guide would find episode 216 of “My Karma Ran Over My Dogma” interesting; that for all the tsuris (suffering) and strife in the world, the benevolence of universe engenders moments infused with connection.

Dayenu. Dayenu. Dayenu.