So I sit here, enjoying the wind blowing my hair around, making swishing noises among the leaves below, as I try to forget my so-far disappointing day. A welcome peace awaits inside the aged brick tower, 1768 steps up, 1350 feet above sea level.
I’ve been to Holy Hill many times before, with my mom, when I was a kid. I remembered how they charge $0.50 to climb the tower by placing an unattended post with a slot for money at the bottom of the steps. When I was a kid, I wondered if people would really pay if no one was watching. I put in a dollar this time. It’s a good thing that I had stopped at the ATM because in my everyday life I always use a card, and they definitely don’t take debit here.
I’m alone at the top, in the little room at the top of the tower, listening to the wind. There’s a sign at the botom of the tower that wishes good luck with the stairs. As a kid I remember feeling the time it took to get up the stairs was an eternity. It really only took me about 10 minutes this time. Every few flights of wrought-iron steps there’s a landing room leading to another flight of stairs. All these rooms contain different colors or bricks, peeling paint, and beautiful old doors leading to forbidden closed-off areas. I am reminded of my love of exploring; unfortunately these doors are locked. As you reach the top the stairs spiral; open air windows would allow a clumsy person to fall to their death but provide the fantastic views that draw non-Catholics like me to this place. There is a creepy, homey feeling about the solitary climb, not unlike being home alone at night feeling comfortable but irrationally scared that an intruder could be in the next room.
It’s windy, which throws off my balance as I climb, and I feel a twinge of fear. As I reach the top though, it’s totally worth it. The solid brick structure reaching into the sky as the wind rips around it feels wonderfully solid, reassuring. I am reminded that some things endure — autumn leaves changing, the wind, the setting sun as well as some man-made things — old brick churches, some relationships, maybe dreams, if you’re lucky.