“It’s not a hill to die on” is an expression my husband introduces to me early in our marriage. Although, over the years he shares a treasure-trove of expressions from his childhood, I’d never heard that one. And, it’s true. When you think about it, there are so many instances when one can and should refrain from entering the melee. Not every situation needs our immediate, individual attention and direction. This is, indeed, an important life lesson and learned leadership skill.
“It’s not a hill to die on” is, according to some, a phrase originating in the military. Many a battle may be lost, but the goal is victory. Others suppose that the expression is in remembrance of Golgotha, the hill where our Lord dies only to rise again, a hill of such importance that all else pales in comparison. Now, that is a hill to die on.
Wherever this saying finds its roots, it is certainly understood across all sectors of society, especially by parents. I think most would agree that life is full of times when it’s best to choose ones battle with care and discretion. We learn and we grow.
However, the Hill of Crosses in Northern Lithuania puts this phrase into perspective. Over 200,000 crosses of all shapes and sizes dominate a hill in an area dotted with farms. Since 1831, crosses appear on the remote hill following an uprising, replacing lost loved ones. Intricately carved or plain, large and small, wooden or metal; over the years the crosses keep coming. Some are over three metres high while others hang as necklaces.
During Soviet communist rule as religion is outlawed, citizens of Lithuania step up peaceful resistance by bringing crosses to the hill. The hill of crosses is bulldozed twice. More crosses make their way to this ‘a hill of defiance’ even while entrance is patrolled and prevented. Nothing stops the populace from keeping their faith and bringing the beauty of the cross to light. Many times under the cover of darkness.
Lithuania gains its independence in 1991 and the hill of crosses becomes an essential part of the memory of their national identity. The country remembers its true ‘hill to die on’.
Today, people from all across the world reflect upon this magnificent show of faith on a lone hill far away.
The faith we uphold, that of Christianity, is one of relationship with our Lord and Savior. It must not be denied. There is a hill to die on.
© D. Raborn