Holden 1

posted Jun 23, 2017, 1:16 PM by Grace Lutheran Church

We arrived at Holden Village on Friday June 1 after a long and somewhat delayed train ride which began in Waterloo, Indiana, passed through eight states and ended in Wenatchee, Washington.  A late train means missing the bus.  Being late means you wait…for the next bus…maybe to the next day if we missed the boat! Getting to Holden means a bus from the train station, a boat up Lake Chelan (at 15 miles an hour for 37 miles) and then another bus.  Honey, the old school but took us up a steep grade in a series of 9 switchbacks to a place like no other, Holden Village.  Even before we boarded the bus at the boat dock we got a sense of the unique nature of The Village.  Old and young, staff or stranger every on pitched in as a human chain to transfer the luggage and assorted boxes and bags of Village staples from the boat to the bus.  Once on the bus the driver, an elderly woman with long grey hair, led introductions.  There were only a few of us.  It was the first week of guests in 4 years (another story).  Summer staff was still arriving.  The bus was welcomed back to the village by…everyone…waving and smiling.  We soon learned that all gather twice each day in the heart of The Village, once to say goodbye to those leaving and again when the bus returns to greet those just arriving. 

The scenery is breathtaking.  A valley surrounded by tree covered, snowcapped mountains.  My song for that day – “How Good Lord to be Here.”  I began to breathe more deeply.

Lunch was the first order of the day – routine: wash hands, head through the cafeteria line, find a spot to eat!  Peg, who greeted us at the bus, ate with us.  We later found out that Peg and her husband are the directors of the camp.

Chalet 2 was our home for the week.  It was simple but comfortable.  Lots of storage space for our clothes! Comfortable beds.  Bath and good shower down the hall. On the main floor there was a nice gathering space with a fireplace and a large porch with a swing.  A quiet couple whose daughter was on staff had the room across the hall.  A young mom and her 2 year old were down the hall.  Upstairs were Catherine and Zander who loved to play board games.  Cat and Zander had just graduated from college.  Zander is working at a winery in Wallawalla, Cat is heading off to the Peace Corps.  When they found out that we were making a train trip they decided we needed to play Ticket to Ride!  It was a new board game for Larry and though I had played a couple of times I had never won.  We learned that Cat and Zander are VERY competitive and I am sure they thought we were easy marks.  I won the first two game…needless to say the gloves were off after that. During her time off Bri, the registrar and longtime friend of Cat, joined the competition. After a couple of days Catherine’s parents arrived.  With Catherine, Zander, Sara, Russell and Bri we continued to play games, share stories and refreshments, and get well acquainted.  Holden is a good place to make friends.

Meals were served in the big camp dining room.  You sat where ever there was an open spot, though we soon formed the habit of eating with the same people.  Larry, his friend Patty, Dan, and Paula.  Occasionally others would join us.    

There was no schedule.  Though meals were served at set times, there were evening vespers, and the chance to take part in a variety of activities, nothing was required.  We didn’t miss a meal of course and vespers were a real treat. (It was a special experience to sing Holden Evening Prayer in the space for which it was written.) We read and played games and visited and napped and just relaxed.  We exchanged stories and made connections with other guests and staff alike.  Holden is a very nurturing, soothing place where you experience God (though usually without naming it) in the people and the environment and the  history and the spirit of the Village.

For a short time we became part of The Village but on June 9th when we gathered outside the hotel in the heart of Holden, we were the ones leaving.  I now understood the tradition. We had grown close to other sojourners as well as staff and this leave taking was necessary for the community and for those leaving…a this deliberate time of saying good bye…recognizing the relationships built in this unique place and the difficulty of the parting.