Posted by: karenevoss | October 27, 2011

A Trip to Remember and to Never Forget

A Trip to Remember and to Never Forget — By K.E.Voss October 24, 2011

Seven years ago, Russ and I made our first trip to The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, at Holy Hill otherwise known as Holy Hill, located in the town of Erin near Hubertus, Wisconsin. Hubertus is thirty miles north of Milwaukee where I live. Holy Hill is a Roman Catholic shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Each year from 2005 to 2008, we travelled to Hubertus to view the historical Church, Shrine, and Stations of the Cross; to climb to the top of the scenic tower; to see the beautiful fall colors of yellow, red, and orange; and to hike the picturesque Holy Hill segment of the Ice Age Trail.

On October 22, 2011, one day short of the anniversary of Russ and my first date and less than two months from the third anniversary of Russ’s death, I took the trip. I hadn’t been to Holy Hill for three years and chose to do so because I am continuing to move forward after tragedy. The drive itself seems so much longer when you drive solo than with a buddy.

I arrived just before 1:00 p.m. and had four hours to view and hike plus visit the gift shop. The first stop was to climb the 178 steps to the top of the scenic tower. Talk about tiring and congested and I don’t mean I was congested.­ The stairs at one point wind and there is no way to pass anyone else except on a landing which measures 2’x2’ square. Even more fun are the people who stop on one of those landings to catch their breath so not only did I have to maneuver around them, but also had to wait for a guy to back up so I could continue. The views from the top of the tower were awesome! I could see all the land and trees in the area. The trees had already lost a lot of leaves, but still maintained some color which allowed me to capture their beauty. I believe the capacity of the tower was met considering how crowded it was. I stopped, on the way down, in a larger 3’x3’ landing to snap a couple of pictures from the circle windows. What a marvellous climb!

My visit continued on to the St. Therese Chapel and the Basilica. Although I have been in both of these places several times, I am still in awe of the beauty contained within. The artwork and statues never cease to amaze me and with the camera set for “Museum” and the flash off, I was able to seize their beauty. I stopped by one with a kneeler and it was here I prayed for myself, for healing, and for friends and family needing healing. This was one place where crying is acceptable.

I always walk the fourteen Stations of the Cross which are in backwards sequence starting at the Basilica and continue on a pathway to the first station. Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. A large group of visitors walked down to the first station where they held a prayer service and then visited the rest of the Stations. I proceeded to view each one, starting at the fourteenth station. I took pictures of each station and various statues along the way as well as other monumental markers.

A picture I knew I had to procure digitally across from the entry way to the first station was the “perfect tree”. Russ located this tree on our trip in 2005 and it was full of yellow leaves shaped perfectly. Each year I looked for that tree and Russ had been very surprised when I remembered it and wanted to find it. This year the tree was mostly bare due to high winds earlier in the week. I still took a picture of it and thought, maybe the real reason it was bare because it knew I was there alone, grieving.

I wasn’t really there alone though, Russ was right beside me, guiding me.

Located in a picnic area is one of the entrances to the Holy Hill segment of the Ice Age hiking trail. I’ve taken the trail before, only this year I hiked it until it ended at Donegal Road on the south side of the trail. I have always loved nature; and hiking comes naturally to me. The trail is clearly marked by the worn path, built-in log stairs and bridges, colored markers and arrows; this segment of the trail is yellow. In a couple of instances two of the marker colors meet and you can continue on the trail or you can go up to the Kame View which is a glacial view. I hiked up to the Kame View and stood looking up to the Basilica with arms wide open, my heart to the sky, taking in the vast beauty of the open air. There was another area to view the Basilica further on the trail.

I did spent a couple of hours walking for miles. I remembered the walks Russ and I took and how we never walked on the same path twice. Numerous songs randomly popped into my head and tears in my eyes. Just when I felt discouraged with tired and sore feet, I could feel Russ’s presence encouraging me to continue and finish this part of my journey. Next year, I will travel back to Holy Hill and I will not be alone. This will always be a trip to remember.

Click here to see the pictures I took: Holy Hill Pictures

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