Part 2. Life at Holden
In my last Blog I told about our first trip to Holden Village, a Lutheran Retreat Center near Chelan, WA. Our family of four loved the journey and the experience. Here’s more about the daily schedule and life at the village. The ongoing programs were central. Topics were mind- and faith-expanding. Holden is where we first heard discussions on community, solidarity, social justice issues, living sustainably, and inclusiveness (more than race or gender, they included the sick, elderly, children, mentally impaired, disabled, homeless, and all). Living sustainably dominated Holden’s whole existence on Railroad Creek. At that time, they were situated across the creek from a mountain-sized mine dump that raised a huge cloud of yellow dust when the wind blew. Years later in 2013 the toxic mine site was remediated by the federal government. Read more about it at: http://www.holdenvillage.org/about-us/mine-remediation/.
Situated fifty miles from civilization, the beautiful valley can produce only a certain amount of energy, accommodate only so much garbage, and still co-exist with the plant cover and animals that live there. The Village situation illustrates in a microcosm our society’s impact on the earth and subsequent problems. In such a setting the normal details of living become significant issues, especially when generating their own electricity, dealing with problems of transportation, garbage, water supply, sanitation, and public health. All the while they focus on cooperating with nature’s ways.
As Staff we were assigned to Dish Team and grew respectful of the mighty Hobart dishwasher. In later years we were also put on the Garbology team once a week. Holden does not use disposables. The composting area was impressive, as was the incinerator. Recycling was a way of life; throwaways were either repurposed, reused in camp, or shipped out on the weekly barge to sustainably approved destinations.
The kitchen staff baked bread daily and prepared food grown in the summer garden. They offered delicious, healthy meals, and promoted fruits and vegetables. Few red meats were served (partly for health, and partly in solidarity to the poor), and desserts leaned towards fruit combinations. In fact, the food at Holden was an ongoing topic in our chalet, because our home diet, I regret to say, was quite different at that time, not as healthy, and it included a lot of red meat. The menfolk finally wrote home to Grandpa and asked him to send a couple of dry salamis, something safe to ship on the boat. Well, since mail to Holden is not swift, the salamis arrived much later than expected and were not fit to eat. As the men headed for an approved disposal site down the street, I was reminded that our Chalet was flying the flag of Hungary. Perfect fit.
Because of Holden, we made changes in our thinking and living. The issues that were new to us in 1980 are now being lived out in society as a whole. For us, we grasped the need for a ministry to the earth, and we took up the task and the lifestyle of Creation Care. New habits, new products, new daily routines are a struggle. Even today I can forget my cloth shopping bags, leave them in the car, or neglect to get them back into the car. When discouraged with my failures, I take a moment to review my inner Art Gallery. I close my eyes and see again the view of Copper Mountain; the peaks where glaciers stayed frozen all summer long. I can still hear the singing of the Holden Evening Prayer the night it was led by a Dad and his 9-year old daughter. I remember strolling past the Dining Hall mid-morning just to smell the fragrance of fresh baked bread; and I hear the evening echo: “Please don’t leave your ice cream dishes outside the closed ice cream parlor at night—it attracts bears.” I re-live the special camaraderie the night we were lucky enough to be seated at table with the grinning fisherman as a cook presented us with a platter of fried trout, fresh caught right out of Railroad Creek. I lift my voice and sing along with the ancient psalmist: “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.” (Ps 97:1 NIV) Alleluia!
Are you interested in knowing more about the Holden food philosophy? Check out this link, “The Holden Kitchen”: http://www.holdenvillage.org/about-us/kitchen/. Now take Holden off your bucket list and add it to your To-do list! Life is short.
Holden Village: http://www.holdenvillage.org/