No matter how many years I've lived I find there are still wonderful surprises waiting around the corner...
and on a hill in Lithuania, of all places.
Have you ever heard of The Hill of Crosses?
The practice of placing crosses on a hill near Siauliai, Lithuania is thought to have started in 1831 as a memorial to people lost in the Polish-Russian War. It has continued since then, even though the practice was greatly discouraged during the long years
(1944-1990) of the Soviet occupation.
The Soviets bulldozed the hill several times and, rumor has it, planned to build a dam to flood the place. Guards were assigned to watch the area, but the faithful snuck in anyway and planted crosses in defiance. I like to think that some of the guards put crosses there themselves or willingly turned a blind eye to those who did.
Despite those efforts to plow it under, the hill remains to this day and has grown to an estimated 200,000 crosses in the ground and who knows how many buried underneath by those who tried to stop it.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
from the town of Nazareth,
to the city of David,
which is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and lineage of David,
to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.