A Life Beyond the Grave: Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses
“In the end, we all end up in the same place as where we were born – no more, no less. No titles. Just ashes back to the Earth.”
These were the exact words I shared when I was tasked to give the eulogy during my brother’s funeral last January.
Hey, I know it’s been an intense few episodes from the Stockholm terrorist attack to surviving the grieving process.
But trust me, it’s not where you think this is headed…
Stay with me….
The morning my brother MIKO passed away, amidst all the trauma and tears, there he was in the crematorium. This man who was larger than life, at a glance, just a bag of dust. His ashes gathered inside some generic plastic bag. Nothing fancy.
I sat there, stared intently and it dug in deep: wow, just like that.
Last night, Miko was alive at the peak of his life. Now, those 48 spectacular years, shoved in one bag of, pardon the term, dirt.
After learning what the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania stood for in the name of resilience and perseverance during a time of severe oppression from the USSR, I realize that the true measure of one’s worth is not defined by how you died but by how you lived. It is not by the titles you’ve earned but by the hearts you’ve touched.
Though it may look it: the Hill of Crosses is not a cemetery.
It is sacred ground that celebrates ordinary men and women who lived extraordinary lives.
That subtle switch of perspective, such power that breathes eternal life into memories of the countless departed souls represented by each and every cross.
If you are alive, LIVE.
Do not just exist.
Life is meant to be experienced. It is meant to make us feel and hurt and awaken. The past no longer exists and the future is nothing but a figment of our hopes or anxieties. The real truth is in the now. All we have is this very moment in time.
I look at my brother’s life and I think, man, that’s the life I would like to live – full – and when I say FULL – to the brim. It was fearless, filled with passion, love and so much fun!!! Ask anyone who knew him!
He may have passed but he was never at a loss.
But now we gain wisdom from the life that he lived.
In all – we win.
I am so proud. So. Damn. Proud.
While no amount of adventures could ever compare to the memories of you, MIKO, I vow to start living again since you’ve gone.
Though I am not there yet, the legacy you’ve left behind is the fuel my soul feeds on.
This is undoubtedly one of the most unforgettable, life-changing places I’ve been to in my life.
Watch the video and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
An episode for the books!
My heart, love and light,
Location: Hill of Crosses, Lithuania, Europe