I’ve been thinking a lot about sacrifice, lately. The word just drips with loss. A heart-rending offering tied up in lead-heavy sheets of pain.
I’ve been thinking about how often the word “sacrifice” is connected to making more sustainable, socially just choices. Or how often it’s used in the rhetoric of politics, or when describing doing something to help others, nearly always in the context of a loss we must prevent or some suffering we must take on.
But, to sacrifice once meant something different. The origin of the word sacrifice comes from Latin/Old French/Middle English words “sacer” (sacred), and “facere” (to make). (Thank you Wikipedia for the definition.)
To sacrifice meant to make something sacred.
So why has the meaning changed so much? Here’s what I think: When people lovingly offered to release possessions, patterns of living, closely held beliefs, as a service for their community, then their act was made sacred. It was a sacrifice.
But, all too often, those kinds of offerings began to be compelled or appropriated. Sometimes in the service of fear or greed. So their meaning was warped, not sacred. Sacrifice came to mean nothing more than loss and pain. And, we began to encode cellular memories of pain, shame and guilt around what was once a spiritual act.
What I’d like to cultivate is a return to “making sacred” my choices, even when they involve changes in my life that feel like loss.
For example, I’d like to truly see the sacred more than the loss in something like buying and eating seasonal, local foods. There is something so sacred in this choice that acknowledges my love and responsibility for this ecosystem where I live, even if it does mean missing some foods at certain times of the year.
When we shift our thinking from “losing” to “gifting” we are making that act sacred. We are sacrificing.
Each time we make that mental/emotional/energetic shift, we are also un-warping our cellular memories. We are creating a new, compassionate, vibration. And that is a loving gift indeed.
Is there anything you are viewing as a loss that you could re-frame as a loving gift?