The Concept of Enough
The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
— Night Prayer, A New Zealand Prayer Book
He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, p. 184
It’s hard not to think about what enough means after a disaster. With so many people so acutely struggling right in your own community, you know you must do something. But how many can you do? Who can you serve? Who are you missing who is still in desperate need? And when can you stop and catch your breath? When are you allowed to rest?
That concept of enough and those questions kept me up at night when I was helping clear out flooded homes in the months following Katrina in New Orleans. Had I done enough? Had I forgotten anyone? Had I prioritized those we could serve properly, justly? I could never answer those questions. I still can’t. But in the months following the storm, I found that I could quiet them through prayer. I lit a candle next to my bed almost every night and read the Compline service to myself, whispering both parts in the darkness. Most nights that routine, those words I grew to know by heart, were all the prayer that I could muster with my scattered, distracted mind. But somehow that ritual, that flame, those whispers and that connection to God, kept the anxiety at bay. My time in prayer reminded me that while the challenges are many, they’re not mine to shoulder alone. There will always be enough work for tomorrow, but in the meantime, we can sit with the darkness and the quiet and try, for a moment, to find some peace and strength for what lies ahead.
Katie Mears is the Director, US Disaster Preparedness & Response at Episcopal Relief & Development.
Image: Boys and men gathering water.