Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Up The Hill To Calvary

"Let the crucifix be not only in my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart."
~St. Bernadette~

I recently made my annual pilgrimage to Calvary Hill...The name "Calvary" after the same Calvary where Our Lord took his last earthly breath.  This is yet another (now beautiful) irony to my story.  Calvary is the name of the cemetery where my late husband, Chris, was laid to rest.  It is a beautiful Catholic parish cemetery on a hill, currently managed by a 77 year old volunteer, funded by private donations.  Needless to say, we "do our own maintenance" there!  We drive quite a distance to get to our chosen family place of honor.  These hills filled with sheep (and their lambs) are part of the wondrous landscape that fills my spirit a long the way.
I call it a pilgrimage because that is what it has become over the past 17 years.  As the dictionary defines pilgrimage, it is "A journey to a sacred place for exalted or sentimental reasons." 
We climb the hill, rain or shine, and work in our hero's garden at the top.  It has become a cathartic place for my oldest son and I to honor our dearly departed AND our Father in heaven as we care for the resting place of our beloved dead.  It has become one of my favorite Lenten offerings.  Last year, my reflections on our pilgrimage led to the beginning of this blog. It's a 1 year bloggy anniversary already!
This was the first year that we arrived to the bursting beauty of daffodils!  They are a glorious addition to Calvary Hill.  Their trumpets seem to herald the hope of the Resurrection to all who tread this hallowed ground.  Daffodils are often the first flowers to burst forth even after the harshest of winters, ever vigilant with their annual return.  They remind me of Our Savior's return, even after the most horrific death on His own Calvary Hill.  They are also symbolic of my personal return to joy from sorrow. The promise of new life is all around us, most especially during the Lenten season.  How fitting to find it here in this place.
As it is in our own lives through the thickest of mud, His glory prevails. There's nothing like tilling the soil at the foot of the cross to remind us of this.
Here we have my son and my dear brother-in-law (Chris' brother) helps out almost every year.
I am also reminded that suffering yields tremendous gifts.
The cross is the greatest love story ever told through which God's grace and mercy awaits each one of us with no exceptions.  His cross unites all of our sorrows with the only One who truly understands; No doubt, it is the instrument of salvation for more reasons than one.
I can testify that if we meet Him there, we will never want to leave.
"Thank the good God for having visited you through suffering; if we knew the value of suffering, we would have asked for it." ~Blessed Brother Andre~ 
These 3 crosses of Calvary were the original inspiration for my blog.  I just might have to update my original header photo with one of these and the new daffodils!
Each year we pull out the weeds, trim the branches and bring something new to plant.  It now reminds me of what we attempt to do during Lent.  I know that I look forward to cleaning my own inner garden during this beautiful liturgical season, in preparation for Easter and the ultimate hope of a heavenly home. I have discovered that Fasting, Praying, Almsgiving and the ultimate emptying of ourselves through Reconciliaiton is freedom itself. 
"He who has made me, unmakes me." ~Blessed Eugenie Smet~
This purple plant was our new addition and gift this year.
I loved the Lenten purple color, symbolizing a Good Friday death anniversary, one we will never forget.  I find it a great blessing and comfort that Chris' death anniversary is now shared with the great Venerable Pope John Paul II.   If his saintly feast day ends up being on April 2, it will be another providential connection for me to embrace. 
I bought a duplicate plant to take home.  This way there will be one there and one here.  I will plant ours in honor of  both Chris and our late Holy Father, on Saturday.
This is the view from the top looking down.  It was a very stormy weekend but the angels arranged for the rains to stop for a bit.  We no sooner finished our gardening and the clouds opened again with a down pour!  Praise God for graces received.
Our finished garden!
 A few family photos...
Me, Mer-man and my Mom
Mer-man with Grandpa and Grandma
(Chris' parents)
Group photo (minus my Mom)
Down the hill we go but forever at the foot of the cross.
"We are pilgrims and strangers on earth.  Pilgrims sleep in tents and sometimes cross deserts, but the thought of their homeland makes them forget everything else."~Venerable Charles de Foucauld~

By William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


  1. The daffodils are so beautiful, one of my favorites! I also love the purple flower. Great idea to plant one at home where you can enjoy it every day. A wonderful tribute to your late husband. So glad you started your blog!

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  3. Stunning, speechless, and so prayerful! What a beautiful tribute and memory for you and your family. God bless!

  4. What a beautiful tribute to your late husband! I opened your blog to see those gorgeous daffodils and love the purple ones too! I have only recently found your blog and am thanking God for doing so. It is so funny how you find exactly what you need when you need it most. I love Divine Providence. I too am so happy that you started your blog. For the short time I have been reading it (two weeks) I have been SO inspired!
    Sorry about the repost...a little one with busy fingers deleted my comment :-)

  5. your poetic words breathe inspiration into me. your constant faithfulness is a beautiful witness. may God bless you and your precious family during this Lenten season and beyond!
    pax Christi - lena

  6. Tiffany, what a beautiful place. a wonderful destination for a pilgrimage, a place full of sorrow and joy; grief and thanksgiving. how wonderful that you make this pilgrimage with your mom and Chris's parents and Chris's brother, and of course with your son. Everything has meaning.

  7. Tiffany, this has brought such tears to my eyes. The beauty that you and your late husband's family have brought out of your calvary is amazing. What you all have done to make this final resting place so memorable and beautiful is beyond words. I have never seen nor heard of any resting place like that. A bittersweet day it was. Thank you for sharing such a loving story, again.

  8. A very beautiful post. I am teary-eyed, and I have a catch in my throat. I am thankful to have stumbled across your blog a month or two ago! +JMJ+

  9. oh I am loving your new blog header and blog lay out. lovelove the brown!!

  10. Tiffany, I am deeply touched by this post. Your pilgrimage to the cemetery is beautiful and the flowers are gorgeous. The William Wordsworth poem at the end is a sweet addition to all that preceded it.

    God bless you generously my dear friend!

  11. Hi Tiffany,

    This is just beautiful and tears are welling up from reading how you remember your late husband. Your husband's resting place is full of love and such care! What a wonderful way to keep his memory close to your family's hearts! God bless!


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