The first time I heard this Leonard Cohen song, I could not quit hitting the replay button. There was something so powerful, so haunting in its lyrics and melody. Some of its more memorable lines etched themselves into my very soul…
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold, and it’s a broken Hallelujah.
Isn’t that so? Any love worth having and holding onto is at best a broken thing because we are broken people. It’s that way in love and in war. No victory is cheap or without sacrifice. We innately understand this, I think. There is a price to pay for victory and often, when you are in the middle of the conflict, there is very little to tell the difference between victory and defeat.
Then, along comes Thomas Jefferson, telling us “Victory and defeat are each the same price.”
I find that thought stunning and sad.
My favorite NHL team, the Dallas Stars, made the Stanley Cup Finals this year. I watched them grind and fight and bleed their way past opponent after opponent. Then, they ran into the Tampa Bay Lightning. At the end of that hard-fought series, the Lightning lifted the Stanley Cup and the Stars licked their wounds. Each team had given everything they had on the ice. It cost as much to lose as it did to win.
You know what carries a more daunting price tag than winning or losing? Quitting!
The great Teddy Roosevelt understood the miserable, undistinguished life of those who quit or satisfy themselves by sitting in the cheap seats and criticizing the combatants in the arena.
Love is not a victory march.
You know what? Victory is not a victory march, either. It is hard walking and heavy lifting. It is fighting the good fight against bad odds. It is falling and rising up again. It is stumbling and steadying yourself. It is, my friend, “A cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.”
And it’s worth it! When you feel that surge of pride, the satisfaction of accomplishment. It’s worth it.
Some do what they do for love. Some do it for money. Others do it for notoriety. Whatever your motivation, whatever your impetus, just do it. Do it until it is done and you raise your bloodied, bruised hands and unbowed head in victory. Then, go ahead and bow your head, and remember you did not do it alone.