Sunday, June 7, 2009
Churches on Hills
Many refer to this part of Wisconsin as the "Holy Land". On every little hill sits the most lovely church, most of them Catholic. In this first picture you can see the church in the very middle, yet miles away. In the next photo, we've arrived up at its door.
There is almost always a building very near it; it is the priest/pastor's home. The church provides it for him in many cases; he is then available 24/7 so to speak.
The homes are modest, the churches are gorgeous. Walnut pews and long aisles, stained glass depictions of saints or the stations of the cross. Making high ground holy ground is compelling as well; the farmer could always see his God from his field.
These churches now often share a priest who does one service at 8, drives and does another at 10, then drives for a noon mass in yet a third church. Or they have worked out every other week schedules because there are not enough parishioners to afford a full time person.
You can not see the cemetery of this country church from this vantage point, but it is just over the ridge. We were there for Memorial weekend and it was full of flowers, real and artificial. Most headstones in a modern cemetery are now flat on the ground so that caretakers can mow the lawn, but in this case, the headstones are proud and tall. Many use granite from the area near Montello in a burgundy tone, exactly like the granite used for Grant's tomb. There are always a few headstones that carry dates before Wisconsin became a state in 1848.
There are often babies buried and their headstones read, Baby Daughter, Lived 3 Days, for example. They didn't name her. This makes me dwell on how hard it must have been to live 150 or more years ago. And in your sorrow, you take the baby up the hill, and bury hear near the church. Then as you look from your farm, you will see her too?