An eight-month tenure at Holden Village, a Lutheran Community in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State has a lasting effect.Mary Chiles Five-minute read. Resources
For eight months in 2012, my husband, Mike, and I were on the staff of an alpine dreamland. Holden Village, a Christian retreat center housing 500 persons, was situated in the Wenatchee National Forest in the middle of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Snow-capped peaks surrounded historic dwellings of the former mining village built in 1938. Rustic footbridges traversed the mountain stream that practically sang as it flowed through the Village. It was like living in a Christmas card.
We lived together in Christian Community. We worshiped together daily. There were artists and musicians. Theologians and children as well as retirees and recent college graduates engaged in conversation. High school church groups from around the country came to groom wilderness trails by day and play pool by night.
Our work conflicts were framed in the idea that as Christians, God enabled us to forgive one another as we walked through encounters with one another in an isolated setting. We ate together. Lifelong friendships forged around rousing table talk and challenging ideas. We laughed and cried together.
It was hard to leave. Often people thought that the communal dining, hiking, and worship were so unique, so lovely, that they should stay forever.
But it was not to be. This was a place to soak in practical world changing theology for the very purpose of leaving in order to be the Church in the world.
The express intention of the place was that we were equipped to be sent.
The Eucharist is like that. We come to kneel in a beautiful setting. Hundreds, often those we have known and loved, have knelt to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at that very spot. It is a liturgical wonderland. There are babies and elders. The choir and congregation sing as we receive. The physical surroundings are exquisite. We are connected in community through our common meal and Lord.
It’s such a holy place. I don’t want to go. And yet—the express intention of that place is to equip me to be sent.
Before we go we ask God,
… Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen. Post-Communion Prayer, Book of Common Prayer, p. 365.
Equipped and ready to be sent.