Saturday, June 19, 2010

Before Going Down the Mountain

I know of no better way to begin the final blog from Holden than to begin it with a photograph of a cairn, a pile of stones serving as a marker for the way along the path of some former wanderer. I recently passed this small cairn put together from existing rocks on a small hill on my way to the labyrinth.

I leave it there for others to pass on their way to wherever it is they are going. If it topples, there will be others who will put it together again. There is always a cairn in this place to mark the way we have taken...this particular way, anyway.

After two years in this wilderness setting, I am leaving. My parting gift to you will be a few more (one can never get enough) glimpses of the world in which I have lived, a world at the moment transformed by sunshine and made verdant by rain...a world transformed by the urgency of making the most of the long days of summer.

The very first rays of the sun illuminate the very top of Buckskin.

The short and exotic season of trillium.

The center stone at the labyrinth.

A patch of lupin along the road to the lake.

A newborn fawn in one of Holden's flower beds.

The canopy over the road to the lake.

"Johnny-jump-ups" along the path at the labyrinth.

Ten-mile Falls.

Cloud bank over Copper Mountain.

I will, in some form or fashion, in some new way as yet unknown to me, continue on with "Whatever from Wherever." I hope that you will continue on my journey with me.

I will leave you for the moment with the words of "The Holden Prayer." This prayer is for all of you as well.

"O God, you have called your servants

to ventures

of which we cannot see the ending,

by paths as yet untrodden,

through perils unknown.

Give us faith

to go out with good courage,

not knowing where we go,

but only that your hand is leading us

and your love supporting us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

So Many Times

So many times, I have stood just the center of the circle that is the labyrinth...looking up into the face of this ridge of rock.

I always knew that the ground on which I stood was not holy ground...not really. It is shaped by human intervention and the repeated course of specifically patterned human wanderings.

Left alone, it would revert to its former self...become what it once was...a mountain meadow.


There, I have asked the Supreme and Hovering Spirit to lead me, to be my guide.

There, I have sought an understanding that most often eludes me.

There, I have bowed my head into the attending sunlight and given thanks.

There, sometimes, I have known peace.

And this rocky ridge, changeable itself over time, has been a silent sentinel to my frequent walks there and to all of my words...words that join themselves to bird song and wind sighs and water music...

...and then are gone.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Time of Dogwood

The first dogwood blooms of the season were brought into the village during the last week of April. At the time, we were having unseasonably cold weather and continuing snowfalls on a daily basis. There was a noticeable longing for spring.

Having learned from them that the dogwood trees had started to bloom, Carey Burkett, Holden's Head Housekeeper, asked those working in the woods outside the village and down toward the lake to bring back some branches of dogwood. She arranged the branches in a large vase and put it atop the "island" in the dining hall.

As she completed the arrangement and as we talked about dogwood, she shared with me the information that there was a certain place on the trail to Domke Lake where dogwood trees were plentiful. She said, in fact, that the forest at that particular spot was filled with dogwood.

There the trail wound up and through the dogwood trees and eventually the hiker would be above the trees and looking down on them. It so happens that the lower limbs of the dogwood tree extend outward from the trunk in a position generally horizontal to the ground with the flowers attached to the upper part of the branch. Thus, from above and looking down on them, the flowers appear to float in the air as opposed to looking as if they were attached to the branch of any given tree.

And it is here that I need to point out that the flowers of the dogwood in the forests of the Northwest are, to my way of thinking, huge. I am accustomed to dogwood flowers that are about the size of a half dollar, if any of you even remember the size of a half dollar. The flowers in these woods are the size of saucers. And the large size makes them all the more noticeable. Imagine it.

Carey told me that a walk through those woods at the time the dogwood trees were in bloom was a walk to remember always. A few days later, she would, in fact, try to repeat that experience of her earlier years at Holden by taking a hike up the Domke Trail. She discovered that the place on trail where the dogwood had once grown so profusely had been a part of the Domke fire during the summer of '07 and had been destroyed.

She is left with only the memory of what once had been.

Others have long-standing memories of that same place on the Domke Trail. At about the same time, within the same decade, anyway, that Carey was hiking the trail, Elaine Harrison was doing the same. She remembers the dogwood along the trail in a completely unique way.

She writes: "My experience of them is from a time we camped at Domke. It began to rain in the night. First we attempted to sleep under a picnic table. Then we decided to walk down to the lake to stay in the bus parked there for weather incidents. There was no A-frame as yet.

As we walked, the light of the moon shone off the dogwood flowers. It was enchanting. They seemed to light our way. It is not a fearsome trail, but in the middle of the night for three city kids, it was comforting to have the light of the dogwood flowers. It felt like all the eyes of the forest were watching over our safety.

It was lovely and is lovely to remember."


Friday, May 14, 2010

The Stained Glass Doors

What you are looking at is the future door of Koinonia. It will be a door made of stained glass...4 stained glass panels in either door and a small and separate panel to the side.

I hesitate to put this picture on the blog because it in no way does justice to what the door will look like when the sunlight streams through the glass. Here, photographs were taken of each of the 9 individual panels, a sheet hanging on the outside of the window in order that nothing might be seen though the glass. Then the 9 separate pictures were "photo-shopped" into one composite picture.

You can see the design quite clearly, and in and of itself, it is impressive. But when sunlight passes through the glass, it is just a wonder.

The door has been in the planning stages for some time now. Its design came into being under the direction of Joe Hester, artist at the Grunewald Guild. Early design was also assisted by Jack Coffey who, at the time, worked in Holden's "craft cave."

At every step in the process, villagers were consulted for input in the design. The final construction of the panels was done in the village by staff members, none of whom had ever done any stain glass work of this magnitude before.

Just this week, the panels were returned to the village after being sent away to be encased in protective glass. For the next month, they will be at the Holden Art Show at the Golden West Gallery in Stehekin.

Plans for the construction of the actual doors have been finalized and work is set to begin soon. Eventually, they will be a beautiful addition to Koinonia.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Once again,
This time
Too late in one season,
So early in the next,
Agape's tree
Stands etched
In snow.

On each branch,
Each twig,
Held in its place
Between the sky
And the earth below,
There is a collection
Of the evidence.

I thought
I should never again
See such a sight.
I thought
Such gracefulness,
Such wonder,
To be only a memory

I awake to find
The beauty
Of a former time
Made manifest,
Made mine to savor
Once again.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Under the Snow

Just under the snow, just at the edge where the bare earth is beginning to be discernible, there are clear signs that the season of spring has arrived.

At the very edge of a pathway, the snow melted from underneath reveals a clump of green unfurling itself from beneath the overlying snow.

A robin pulls a worm from beneath the dirt that only two days earlier had been covered with a thick layer of snow accumulated over the course of the winter.

When Janice Haakons, Holden's intrepid gardener, arrived three days ago, she took a rake to a small patch of dirt covered by a season of falling vegetation from a nearby tree. Lo! there were green shoots punching up into the air from a winter spent below the surface.

Spring, full-blown, is on the way!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All Things Are Possible

Proof of that statement lies in the fact that at dinner on March 31, we had a wonderful halibut for our meal.

The fish, straight from the sea and Seattle's Central Market, was the gift of Larry Howard and Pastor Nancy Winder as a measure of their appreciation for the help of villagers during Nancy's recuperation from her broken ankle, still an ongoing process.

The halibut was brought from Seattle by Paul Hinderlie who, on the day it was to be cooked, demonstrated the finer points of knife wizardry as he rendered this beautiful halibut into equally beautiful halibut fillets.

Those who had come for coffee break gathered around "the silver counter" to watch Paul work his magic. That magic would continue on and would be included in the cooking of the halibut.

I have never eaten better.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 4: Easter Sunday

For reasons hereby made known to you, the Village Easter Egg Hunt was held in the dining hall.

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2: Courtesy of the Ultimate Prankster

It is April 2, and it is still snowing!

The Ultimate Prankster saw fit to begin this massive snowfall on April Fool's Day, and it is threatening to dash the hopes of everyone who wanted to park their Yaktrax in the closet for Easter Sunday.

Head Maverick Jacob Sperati will sweep steps and tromp pathways all day and never get ahead of the coverage.

Mid-morning, and the village appears to be deserted. The snow continues to fall, and the seats of the summer Adirondack chairs brought out too early for lasting spring weather, once again fill up with snow.

A number of guests are leaving today, and the bus awaits their departure. Their only consolation, upon looking at the ever-deepening snow covering the road, is that since they are going DOWN the mountain, there is the distinct possibility that there will be less snow on the switchbacks than there is on the road in the village itself. The intrepid Noah Nierman, whose more usual job assignment is Staff Coordinator, will see them safely to the boat at Lucerne.

The view from the porch of the dining hall is one of utter whiteness, both on the ground and in the air. There is so much snow falling that there is not a glimmer of sunlight to ease the gray to silver. As the saying goes, we are "socked in."

In the meantime, Pastor Nancy Winder, who sustained a serious break to her right foot about a month ago, must be transported from her residence up on Chalet Hill down to the dining hall for meals. She arrives for lunch aboard "The Imp."

The bus returns from the boat with guests arriving for the Easter Weekend. I have no idea what they expected, weather-wise, but it is still snowing and looks as if it might turn out to be an Easter they will never forget! Those already in the village wave them in...a time-honored tradition, snow or no snow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool!

Looking a bit otherworldly, this forlorn creature greeted early morning coffee drinkers in the dining hall. It was the most obvious of the beginning-of-the-day April Fool's Day pranks.

The breakfast buffet line had been reversed. The "silver chairs" had been exchanged with the mining era "black chairs." You dare not trust the contents of the condiments containers...and folks are still looking for the soy sauce! There was a choice of green milk and pink milk...forget what % milk you wanted.

And all of this before matins!

Just before the training session for the "First Response Team" got underway, there were reports that a roof-a-lanche had taken out the early morning dining hall coffee drinker.

Aubrey, the Village Child, had to be convinced that it was "just a prank, Aubrey, just a prank" as the victim's boots actually belonged to her dad. Oh my!

Meanwhile, the greatest prank of all. A gift from the Ultimate Prankster. It is April 1 and it is snowing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March: A Last Look at Winter

According to the weather data published Friday on the Holden website, the Village has received 230 inches of snow this season. Of that amount, 62 inches remain on the ground.

While the amount of remaining snow is significant, it becomes more obvious each and every day that winter is slowly, but surely, being replaced by spring.

Before we celebrate the unfurling of the ferns on the forest floor and before we rejoice in the rhubarb pushing upward through the dirt in the rhubarb beds, it is time to take one last look at winter. Winter as we see it in March.

Snow continues to be mounded up against the buildings. Moving about the village is still restricted to pathways tramped out in the accumulated snow, but there are many more days now with truly fabulous blue skies and an ever-increasing amount of sunlight during any given day.

From their place in an office window on the back side of Koinonia, three indoor plants (three winter-ravaged indoor plants) soak up the mid-day sunlight.

White smoke pouring from the chimney of Koinonia in the early morning hours does not mean that there is a new Pope. It means that stoking the wood furnace inside Koinonia is still a necessity in keeping the building warm. The entrance to the Craft Cave remains completely blocked by snow accumulated there, mostly by roof-a-lanches.

Early morning frost highlights the hand rail of the covered bridge.

The ice dam formed during the winter across Railroad Creek is still in place but is diminishing in size and in the amount of water that must still find its way underneath. During the late hours of the morning, the dam receives, for the first time in months, a limited amount of direct sunlight.

The entrance to Koinonia remains banked on either side with snow that has been removed from the path leading in and from the road.

Heavy snowfalls are not uncommon. Sun-seekers brought out the summer's Adirondack chairs a bit too early, and sun worship had to be curtailed while the chairs fill with snow.

Soon now, the great and sustained melt-off will begin. For the moment, all is covered in snow...still.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stepping Out in Falling Snow

Step out
In falling snow
Onto a path
Committed already
To memory
Against the time
I will
No longer
Walk it.

I marvel
To see
How the familiar
Has become transformed,
How the old
Has been made new.

I rejoice
In all the angularities
And all the edges
With the cover,
To seek the curve.

I take pleasure
In the exhalation
Of frosty breath,
And am embraced
By the soundlessness
Of icy air.

Step out
In falling snow
Onto a path
Committed already
To memory
Against the time
I will
No longer
Walk it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Breakers

At the Wednesday evening Compline service, all was peaceful and quiet. The chant was beautifully cantored by Keri Welch and the reading of Psalm 27 was admirably rendered by Alice Closmore.

A Compline service is not your usual setting for students on their spring break, but neither is Holden Village your usual spring break destination. While their friends were working on sun tans in more southerly places, these students quickly integrated themselves into the rhythms of community life. They
were a part of a group from Collegeville, MN from the campuses of St. Benedict and St. John's Colleges.

Holden village volunteer Gordy Ericson finished his construction of the cross to go into the center of the fire ring at Koinonia. Long term staff member Claire Hoffman supervised St. Benedict students Hannah Newman and Rachel Stobb in the application of stain on the piece. The cross was used for the first time at the Compline service that very evening.

Work does not begin at Holden until the "Potty Patrol" has been thoroughly searched for the appropriate work clothes. Here Kia Lor looks over the offerings to be found in one of the favorite spots in the village.

Yama Moua takes a turn replenishing the firewood stacked for future use in "Dante," the furnace used to heat many of the chalets. Holden's new Business Manager, Janeen Smith, appreciates the extra help on her assigned stoking duty.

Although the students worked on many different projects while they were here, one of the biggest was the complete remodel of "the walk-in," the main refrigerated room just off the kitchen. As the walls of "the walk-in" were torn away, the group's sponsor, Trish Dick, pulled nails from the boards that had been removed.

Inside "the walk-in" Yama Moua helps to remove the boards that from the sides of the room.

Ben DeMarais also spent considerable time working in the remodel of "the walk-in."

The floor in the entryway of Koinonia was in the process of being completed when the students arrived. They very willingly got down on their hands and knees to help in the application of the grout. Collin Motschke became an expert with the sponge in working on this project.

Hannah Newman and Angie Ebben also worked on the Koinonia floor.

Kerri Welch and Steve Lubner, assigned to help the "Mavericks" in any one of a number of maverick tasks, move sheets of plywood across the snow and onto the porch of the dining hall.

Kia Lor and Rachel Stobb unload the sheets of plywood from the back of the snow vehicle called "The Imp."

Even from her assigned post in the dish pit, Lindsay Ganong is able to smile.