A visit to Lithuania had been in order for a while now. My father travels there often and had invited me on several occasions but there was always something that prevented me to go, until now. We stayed in Vilnius but I really wanted to see the Hill of Crosses for myself. It is a 2 and a half hours train ride and then 15 minutes by car from the station.
"The Hill of Crosses is a place of Catholic pilgrimage that is believed started in 1831. The uprisings of 1831 and 1863 led families to place crosses here as a symbol for missing family members. It was bulldozed by the Soviet Union several times between 1963 and 1973. This place has come to signify the peaceful endurance of Lithuanian Catholicism despite the threats it faced throughout history." The hill remains under nobody's jurisdiction, therefore people are free to build/bring crosses, images, rosaries, scapulars as they see fit.
I do know how it feels to have a family member missing. My father was kidnapped in 1996, fortunately for us he was returned 6 months later. But for those 6 months nothing made sense, there is a certain feeling of desolation and despair that accompanies you for every wakeful moment. Every breath or bite of food you take requires an enormous effort. The uncertainty of it all bites you second by second, leaving nothing but despair, and that is what I think I felt here in this place.
I'm glad I got to see it, especially with my father next to me.
I wish you a beautiful and peaceful month of March,