Leonard Cohen wrote many, many verses for his song, “Hallelujah.” Most we never hear, but he spent years working on that song, only to have it … flop. His original version wasn’t good. It took the death of Jeff Buckley to put the song in the public’s consciousness. The rest is history. While I understand it isn’t a “Christian” song, Christians have a way of seeing Christ everywhere.
Every verse of the most-played version is a little work of art, but the powerful imagery conjured by the line,
“Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.”
really sticks to my mind - in part because I agree with him.
Love is actually hard. It is not a feeling. It is a choice. It is there after all hope is passed. It is Mary at the cross, Jesus weeping, getting up at 3AM to care for children, working two jobs to give your family an easier life, shaving your head for someone else’s cancer diagnosis, paying for someone’s debt, changing your patterns when your spouse ought to change theirs -
all hard things. Choices. Sacrifices. All of those things and STILL ending with some kind of praise, some kind of Hallelujah, some kind of release to God. As Cohen wrote, “Even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.”
While that song was playing, I thought of what love was - what it could look like, and I imposed a picture of Christ carrying his cross up to Golgatha.
A victory march.
This shirt imagines a little graffiti story.
The first person stencils on Cohen's line “LOVE IS NOT A VICTORY MARCH” and another person comes by later and strikes out “NOT” to make a new statement about Christian salvation.
The second person also applies an image of a skull with 3 crosses on top to symbolize Calvary, or Golgatha - the place of the skull.
The combination of the new phrase and the symbol of Golgatha creates a new way to see love as a victory march.
Either way you read Cohen’s line, Christ still emerges. It is inevitable because Christ IS Love, especially in the hard times.
Golgatha is referred to in all four Gospels (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33, and John 19:17). The word, "Golgatha" has an uncertain origin, but may be a combination of "Goliath" and "Gath" - where Goliath was from. If that is the case, the story just gets better and better.