Monday, December 6, 2010

Shrine of St. Therese

                It was a few years ago, on my second visit to Juneau, that I had the opportunity to visit the St. Therese Shrine out past the ferry terminal. It must have been in April or May because I was on my way home to Haines for the summer. I had a ticket for the but-crack-of-dawn ferry with my car and meager belongings. Not wanting to miss the early wake-up, I decided to stay awake throughout the night by drinking at the bar. Well, the bars closed at 2am and I still had a few hours before I could board the boat, so I headed out to the Shrine to do some sightseeing.
                I arrived at the place as just as the sun was starting to peek over the mountains, casting the densely forested area around the mission in an eerie light. Undaunted by the creepiness, I walked down the path from the parking lot towards the shrine. I went to the mission/church and was disappointed to find the doors locked so I started to walk the Stations of the Cross. It took me a few tries to find the beginning due to my slightly intoxicated state, but I finally managed to find the start point. I admired the workmanship of each station as I tried to remember from my CCD classes from my youth which one would come next.
                I had almost made the entire circuit when I heard what I believed to be a baby cry.
                “Hello? Is there someone there?” I asked into the silence of the trees. There was no response and I hadn’t heard or seen anyone else during my trek out to the shrine. I poked around some more, blowing off what I had heard even though it creeped me out. I walked off the hardly used path and stepped a little deeper into the surrounding trees when I heard the noise again.
                “Hey! Who’s out there?” I shouted. The only response I received was that of the wind causing the branches of the trees to creak a bit. I heard the noise again which prompted me to pick up the nearest make-shift weapon that I could find.
                Now armed with a small twig, I repeated my inquiry to the forest, “Who’s out there? Quit fucking with me!” I looked down at the pathetic branch clutched in my hand and dropped it to the ground as I looked for something more substantial. “What the fuck?” I said to myself, “how can there be no sticks in the forest?” I gave up on trying to arm myself and decided to find the culprit instead.
             I heard the noise again and immediately ran to where I thought the sound to be coming from. There was nothing and no one there. I heard the noise again, this time, from where I had just run from. I ran back to where I was before and still found no one there.
It was then that I looked up into the trees and spotted a raven about twenty feet above sitting on a branch.
“Hey, stupid bird. What are you doing?” I couldn’t believe that I was trying to speak to a bird, I was a little tipsy and sleep deprived though. That’s when the raven opened its beak and mimicked the sound that I had been hearing.
“What the…? Stupid fucking bird. Scared the hell out of me.” I picked up the nearest twig and hurled it at the trickster raven. I missed of course and the raven launched into the air and flew away. I haven’t been back to the shrine since.

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