BeHolden: All Things New


Week of August 31  |  Holden 2020  | Sustenance for our journey


A new path

PegChuckFarewell.jpgAs we look out the window at Copper and Buckskin Mountains, the twin fawns are eating grass and clover in the Village Green, their spots almost gone. Throughout time people have gone to the edges and boundaries of place to experience, learn, change and grow. Far off places on the periphery can offer our best hope for rediscovering our resilience, our relationship to the great mystery of the earth, and the creating Spirit that sustains us. Holden has provided a place for us to practice rhythms, to reform our relationship with the earth and others, and to lead in times of change. We’ll take what we’ve learned to face the many challenges now confronting our earth community.  

As you read this note, we will be heading down the mountain for the last time. It is not surprising to us that living a creative life comes to our minds and hearts over and over. When we came to Holden Village over five years ago, we gave the board of directors the book, The Man Who Planted Trees, a short story by French author Jean Giono. The tree planter plays a small role in the transformation of a forest. He’s concerned only about his part as planter, and he leaves the results and the seeds he has planted to time. The result was a total transformation of the landscape – one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.

In 2015 that story spoke to us about such things as perseverance, resilience and creatively doing our part in the long story that is Holden. It also spoke to the assuredness that we would not see most of our work come to fruition. Those things were a good foundation for what was to come — the bookends of a major forest fire (on Day 2 of our tenure as Directors) and the global pandemic (which closes out our time at Holden). Those qualities also gave us the courage to begin, to get comfortable with ambiguity, and to carry on through many experiences.

In the midst of the opportunities and challenges, these years have offered us a time of deep awareness and learning. We don’t simply want to go back to how things were before we arrived. There have been discoveries in our creative lives, especially our intimate interdependence in all living things. We have been affirmed that we are essentially wandering artists and teachers. In this next season of our lives, we hope to engage more fully in this role, and travel as lightly as possible.

We feel enormous gratitude for all of you who have put time and energy into serving and supporting Holden Village in our time as Directors. Profound thanks to our board members, our caring staff, our generous donors, our hard-working volunteers, to you, our extended community around the world, and for those yet to come. It is time for us to let go and let time evolve and grow our beloved Holden.

May you be safe, may you be well, and may you be held in love.

With good courage,
Chuck Hoffman + Peg Carlson-Hoffman
Executive Directors

This issue of BeHolden, All Things New, will be Chuck + Peg's final issue.
Please visit to welcome the new village directors.


There are many invitations afforded us in times such as these. Invitations to listen, to engage, to be open, to love and remind ourselves that we don’t own the answers. In the spirit of our Summer Conversation, All Things New, this summer will be a different kind of summer. Holden will continue to be a light — just in a new way. In this new world we’re all inhabiting, we're sharing insights from some of our originally scheduled summer faculty.


A Holden Journey

WhatJustHappenedImage.jpgWhat Just Happened?

Chuck + Peg have served as the Holden Village Executive Directors from 2015–2020. While this video in no way reflects the totality of experiences, they have had living in this remote wilderness village, it does present some of their milestones as leaders during their tenure. Thank you for this gift and opportunity.



TheManWhoPlantedTreesBook.jpgBook – The Man Who Planted Trees

by Jean Giono, Author; Michael McCurdy, Illustrator

The Man Who Planted Trees, is a timeless eco-fable about what one person can do to restore the earth. The hero of the story, Elzéard Bouffier, spent his life planting one hundred acorns a day in a desolate, barren section of Provence in the south of France. The result was a total transformation of the landscape – from one devoid of life, with miserable, contentious inhabitants, to one filled with the scent of flowers, the songs of birds, and fresh, flowing water.

TheManWhoPlantedTreesFilm.jpgFilm – The Man Who Planted Trees

Philippe Noiret, actor; Christopher Plummer, actor; Frédéric Back, director, producer, writer

An award-winning animated film. The story of a shepherd's single-handed quest to re-forest a barren valley.


Voices from the Village


Dunes of Gold: A Tongue-In-Cheek Homage to the Tailings of Holden Village

by Steve Wolbrecht

Ron Pangborn and I were Village musicians last summer, and we were asked to do a concert. During the time we were putting songs together, I heard Sting's version of “Fields of Gold.” My spoofed lyrics – about the tailings that used to surround the Village – flowed out, and “Dunes of Gold” came to be.

We performed “Dunes of Gold” on June 26, 2019, as part of our concert, with Matt Shimkus (singing as Sting), Ron Pangborn on drums, Sam Genualdi on guitar, Jason Bendickson on bass, and myself on piano. The performance included a slideshow of old pictures of the tailings from the ’80s and ’90s in all their orange glory. All of it another fine example of Holden Hilarity.




In this time of leave-taking, I am remembering some words that were part of the preface to the blessing I composed for Peg and Chuck’s installation as directors. I commented that Peg, Chuck, and Holden Village had a sense of some of the reasons they had been called to this place and why you said yes to each other. I went on to write, “I have a hunch that as these years unfold, you will learn that you have said yes to each other also for reasons you can hardly imagine today, reasons that will be revealed only as you travel together into the mystery that lies ahead.”

Reasons we could hardly imagine, indeed. On this far threshold that lies worlds away from that day of installation, we could find ourselves tempted to speak of Peg and Chuck’s service at Holden as being bracketed by disasters: beginning in fire, ending in pandemic, with plenty of other astonishing events in between that no one could have envisioned. Yet even as we acknowledge the immense challenges that met Peg, Chuck, and the Holden community, I think it is more accurate to speak of their tenure as being bookended by blessings — that, in fact, what has been most consistent throughout their tenure is the spirit of blessing they brought to their vocation here, the blessing they have embodied, the blessing that will remain as they leave, the blessing that even now is making way for new blessings to take root amid the mystery that is continually unfolding for Holden.

As we welcomed Peg and Chuck with a blessing, so may we send them, seeing and naming the blessing they have been among us.

Into the Mystery

A Sending Blessing for Peg + Chuck

let us say
we behold.

let us say
we see you—
that we know
the blessing
you have brought here,
the blessing
you have been here,
the blessing
you have breathed into
this place with
your fierce devotion
and steady love,
your willingness
to keep opening your heart
to the mystery,
to keep finding its pulse,
to keep moving
in a cadence of presence
through this wild landscape
of chaos and grace.

let us say
that every word
of this blessing
is a hand
reaching out to you
across the distance,
that every line
is part of a litany
of voices raised for you
in gladness and
in benediction
and release.

let us say
we are sending you on,
singing praise
for your heart
that will open, close,
open again
and again,
forever altered
but keeping its cadence still
as you enter ever deeper
into the mystery
that draws you toward home,
returning by
another way.

— Jan Richardson

Chuck + Peg with Soul Totems | Photo Greg Pupillo

Soul Totems by Chuck + Peg | Photo Chuck Hoffman

Closing Thoughts

Over the past many weeks, we have shared this series, All Things New, to explore in part, the conversation originally scheduled for summer.

We hope that you have found it helpful. In this new world we all inhabit, may you continue to find sustenance and hope for your journey.

You are encouraged to continue to give to Holden in all the ways that keep Holden Village thriving as a place and space to explore together.