The evening of Monday, June 17, 18 Grace “Soul Journeyers” will journey from Phoenix to Holden Village in central Washington State. In the process, we will take the following modes of transportation: lightrail, planes, cars, buses, and a boat. It will indeed be a journey! Then, we will make our temporary home at Holden Village, a Lutheran renewal center in the Cascade Mountains. Originally a copper mining community, Holden Village was gifted to the Lutheran Church over 50 years ago. Today, Holden welcomes hundreds of guests each summer week, powered by the efforts of approximately 1,000 volunteers annually along with 20 employees. A small number of year-round employees and long-term volunteers live in the village through the winter months, a community of about 50-75 people. To that end, the village includes a pastor on the roster of either the ELCA or LCMS, a Chelan school district teacher who teaches all the children of the village, directors, an accountant, a mechanic, program staff, and other administrative and technical staff. The vision of Holden Village is the love of God making new the church and world through the cross of Jesus Christ. The mission of Holden Village, a Lutheran ministry, is to welcome all people into the wilderness to be called, equipped and sent by God as we share rhythms of Word and Sacrament; work, recreation, and study; intercession and healing.
In our week of travel, the Grace Soul Journeyers will embrace our mission which is to grow spiritually, be challenged to live simply, and build relationships among our co-journeyers and Villagers. In the months leading up to the trip, we have met monthly to serve the Grace community and build relationships with one another. Once we depart from Sky Harbor airport, we will be challenged to trust one another and work together as we journey to a new place and into a different way of life. Life at Holden Village is slower, less frenzied, and more intentional than most of the places at which we work and play, go to school and live. During our time at Holden, we will have no cell phone service or internet. We will eat meat only twice a week, and all of our meals will be made in-house. No processed food is served at Holden, not even packaged granola bars or other snack items. We will hike regularly and thus challenge our bodies to overcome physical barriers.
We will worship each evening with the entire Holden Village community; even guests must agree to daily worship attendance to stay at the village. We will become aware of our trash by serving with the village “garbologist;” because the village must send out their trash by boat, they strictly sort all of the trash in village into the following categories: compost, recycle, burn, and landfill. Holden invites volunteers and guests into a variety of small practices that limit energy use and build community among all the various strangers who converge on this Lutheran community each summer.
The summer of 2004, Ben and I volunteered full-time at Holden for 12 weeks. Ben served in the kitchen; I managed the Dining Room and Dining Room volunteers. When we returned to the Chicago at the end of the summer, we began composting and drastically reduced our trash. 15 years ago, we had no cell phones, wifi, or TV anyway, but we both enjoyed the time away from noise pollution, air pollution, and light pollution. We continued connections from our time at Holden into the years that followed. My hope for the Grace Soul Journeyers is that each person will take away something from our trip that will enrich their spiritual lives, their care for Earth, and their relationships with one another. Spending time at Holden Village reminds us, in the midst of a busy, chaotic world, that the kind of life we lead here in Phoenix is not the only way life can be led. Truly, we can live deeply attuned to God’s presence. We can live lightly on Earth. We can care for one another and even strangers.
With joy and love for each of you,