On a farm visit during my recent vacation, I got to observe a litter of 2-week old piglets and their mom. A few days later and right before I got there, another sow, Pansy, also farrowed a litter. (“Farrow” is my new word for the summer, you may borrow it.) Some other porcine knowledge I gained: newborn piglets nurse as often as every 20 minutes, and for the first couple days, mama pigs eschew nourishing themselves to just lie there and feed the kids.
Since both litters had 11 piglets, I was amazed that the moms were equipped to feed so many at once. My friend Farmer Sam said that breeder sows usually have 12-14 teets, and in God’s economy, the sows don’t have more piglets than they can feed. Pansy’s little squealers piled on top of each other, layered for maximum access, and it worked beautifully. They all got exactly what they needed, nothing more, and it was awesome to see. They had enough.
Which brings me to Sunday’s Gospel lesson. How is that for a segue?
Luke 12 tells the story of a rich man with a great abundance of crops, and having outgrown a place to store it all, didn’t know what to do—such a problem! Should he tear down his barn and build something huge enough to keep his growing bounty? He didn’t seem to be inclined to share. It’s not hard to guess what God had to say about this pre-occupation with abundance.
Unfortunately, this rings true for me and maybe for you, too. Rich and I have actually paid to store stuff we had no room for and probably didn’t need. We have an attic so full, we may be found dead in our bed one day, crushed by the collapsed ceiling above and the fallen boxes of… I don’t remember. I am ashamed every time I throw out refrigerated food that has expired. Sound familiar? As a society, have we lost our grip on the concept of “enough"? A bigger house? More eating out? What do we all have that could make someone else’s life better? What is enough for you and for me?
There is a song often sung during the Jewish Seder meal, “Dayenu,” which means “it would have been enough.” It has many verses that recount the events of the Passover story. After each verse, everyone sings the dayenu refrain. “If He had brought us out of Egypt, …if He had fed us manna, …If He had given us the Torah,” it would have been enough.
Dayenu means we must not take for granted what we have at this moment, as individuals or in community. Dayenu—enough—suggests that while we juggle the baggage of full lives but still look for more, we’re missing out on the today God has already blessed. We’re missing out on the opportunity for gratitude. Receiving enough is nothing short of a miracle when many only know scarcity.
Pansy and her piglets remind me just how beautiful enough can be. They, and we, have all we need. As I write this, I am becoming 71 years old. I hope that’s not enough, but if it is, wow, and thank you, God.