As I’m staring at these cards thinking aloud “I have no idea what to make of these cards” to have my wife reply “You say that every week when you draw cards for the blog”, today I find a song starts going through my head.
The song is called “Of These, Hope” by Peter Gabriel off the album Passion, the soundtrack for the movie The Last Temptation of Christ. An appropriate theme music for the blending of these two cards.
In the aforementioned movie (as well as the book by Nikos Kazantzakis from which the film was adapted) our protagonist (guess who that might be) is struggling with having to commit to putting the excruciatingly painful and traumatic exclamation point on this mission, as it were. He was seriously considering how he could get out of it. I mean, it was one of the most torturous executions the Romans had come up with, and on top of it all you had to do it naked.
The Hanged Man wants to clear a few things up about the idea of sacrifice. First of all, there has to be a purpose. Why sacrifice oneself if it benefits no one? At that point you’re just leaving the building rather anticlimactically. There has to be some greater good from it, where we give of ourselves to fertilize the ground so that the cotyledon of hope may break the surface and spring eternal.
Next, one has to give willingly. Jesus couldn’t go to the cross kicking and screaming, like a kid throwing a temper tantrum at bath time or a family that finds out the father is moving them to Florida due to a job transfer. The operative word here is surrender. One has to go into the process of giving of oneself willingly, knowing that the cost of our sacrifice, though seemingly tremendous, is a small price to pay in order to provide so many others with hope and renewed faith that there is good in the world for each and every one of us.
Lastly, if the world is to gain from our sacrifice, there has to be absolutely nothing in it for us. No posthumous awards, no knightings or hopes for being canonized, no vouchers for a free dinner at Black Lobster restaurant. Even the slightest hoping for some sort of quid pro quo in the form of getting the “what a great guy” label will taint our actions and rob them of providing the fullest benefit to their recipients. The gifts might as well be accompanied by a paragraph of the tiny disclaimer print of pharmaceutical ads.
The most powerful form of sacrifice is comprised of willing surrender. It is us giving the gift of hope to another, with no expectation regarding the outcome. We don’t even need to wait for anyone to hold out their hands to accept our gift, we simply need to set it down and turn away, trusting the ones who need it most will surely find it.