Let me start this posting with a list:
- David inconveniences himself regularly for his wife, Melissa, as a sign of love
- Mom and Dad forgo a special night out to attend a backyard drama staged by their children
- Dustin Pedroia hits into the hands of the left fielder so Jacoby Ellsbury can score from 3rd
- Staff Sgt. Nigel D. Kelly dies in Afghanistan when his unit is attacked by Taliban forces
- Republican Senator Mark Grisanti of New York State votes to affirm same gender marriage
- My wife gives me the larger of the last two pieces of cake, even though she’d really like it
Each of these items represent the concept of sacrifice, although it’s hard to equate # 6 with #4. On the scale of significance, #4 is the ultimate sacrifice and #6 is a temporary inconvenience. Nevertheless, each has the element of sacrifice embedded in it, in that a person chooses to benefit someone else by their own offering.
When talking with a couple about their forthcoming marriage it is important to point out that the greatest quality they will be called upon to draw from in their marriage is sacrifice. Yes, as an element of the institution of marriage it may even surpass that of love. Love is fragile and changes in its form and intensity throughout a lengthy marriage. But sacrifice is a constant. It may vary from one person of the couple to the other, depending upon the moment and the circumstance, but it is absolutely necessary if a marriage is to survive. One might say that sacrifice is a sign of love.
The sacrifice a member of the military embraces when taking the oath at the time of enlistment is immeasurable. It means that the person is putting life, itself, on the line as a statement of support for the principles and ideals which are the foundation of our life as a nation. When a death or serious injury occurs we are made aware of the magnitude of that sacrifice and there is little that we can say or do to acknowledge our gratitude. President and Mrs. Obama say regularly that the best we can do is to promise to care for the family of the deceased and the care of the injured to the best of our ability. It is a similar thing to acknowledge the sacrifices of police officers, fire fighters, and others who put themselves in harm’s way as a gift to the citizens of a municipality.
But little sacrifices matter a great deal also. The offering of parental time as a gift for a child is something that is remembered throughout a lifetime. Setting aside personal desires in order to nurture children is sometimes a very costly and painful gift, but the sacrifice it entails cannot be measured in ordinary dollars and cents.
Being late by a few moments because a loved one needed to talk, or putting aside watching an impending home run because a phone needed answering may seem irritating, but its impact as a sacrifice may mean a great deal. One never knows the full meaning of such a selfless act and we might be tempted to dismiss it. But it counts.
Sacrifice is a word that emanates from the Latin word for “holy” and has its base in the offering of the Mass by a Priest. It is, truly, a spiritual thing; it begins in the heart 0f one and enhances the heart of another. What a beautiful thing.
Cartoon Credit: paula becker
*(Special thanks to my golfing, cooking, building, parenting, loving friend, David, for this suggestion.)