When we arrived at Tomas and Jurgita's two days ago, one of the first things we inquired about was if there were any distinctly Lithuanian sites we shouldn't miss during our stay. After much hmmmm-ing deliberation (nobody thinks their own country has anything interesting to see, it seems!), they recommended the Hill of Crosses, a pilgrimage site near the Latvian border.
So, when we departed this morning, leaving them to complete their strikingly familiar collection of preparatory to-do lists, this was our destination.
We stopped several times along the way to capture the expansive skies and fields:
…and endured a little rain without getting even the slightest bit damp:
…before arriving at the Hill of Crosses, a truly portentous sight:
Apparently, there are estimated to be over 100,000 religious items on and around the hill: crosses, giant crucifixes, wood carvings, statues etc. During Soviet rule, the hill was bulldozed three times, but locals quickly came to rebuild and replace the crosses at the desecrated site. For many, this was a place of great reverence and worshipfulness. For others, this was a place to peacefully protest life under Soviet oppression, and assert their sense of Lithuanian identity.
Amidst the devout offerings were many cartoony things as well:
Tara's favorite among the thousands we saw was this carved wooden angel, covered with beads.
The light was beautiful, and it was moving to see how so many people had come to this place in reverence. However, after seeing Jesus clearly in agony all over the place (including at least one trillion broken plastic Jesus figurines mashed into the path around the site), we started to feel sort of bad for the guy.
Suddenly, it struck us as strange that people were hanging all this crap on him instead of, you know, helping him get down. It was about this time that our irreverent sides kicked in.
"Crosses for sale, crosses for sale… anyone want to buy my crosses? No? Christ, it's hot out."
"Uh, thanks for the jewelry guys, nottt really helping the situation. I could use a hand getting off of here though…"
And our favorite: Jesus in the outhouse, constipated and shaking his head, saying "Oy vey" as if utterly bummed by the state of the world.
Lithuania's attraction checked off our list, we drove off in our little red car, feeling a bit sacrilegious as we headed towards the sea.