Holden Voices: Blog

Poems, stories, and reflections, written by faculty, staff, and volunteers currently serving in the Village.


July 06, 2015 at 9:06 AM

I am from Montana, and we have these bumper stickers that say: Get Lost in Montana. I think this is what we should all do: Just Get Lost! Not in Montana, but here at Holden. After all, our summer theme is: “Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.”

I think that creation is getting more excited. She is adding her shouts of thanksgiving and joining our amens. Creation is getting more and more excited not only for the water to start flowing clean, but also imagining all the places it will flow. Creation is eagerly longing for the witness of Holden to flow. Creation is waiting with eager longing for others to know of us not only for Holden Evening Prayer, but as a place of healing for all of Creation. For this to happen, Creation wants us all to get lost in her.

The first time I remember being lost was when I was about 4. I was shopping with my mother at a big Sears, and I remember all the clothes, as I moved from one rack to the next and the next. Then, I remembered looking up and seeing that my Mom was gone. I ran one way, then another, looking for my mother, tears forming in my eyes, fear forming in my mind, and thinking I would never be found; I would never see my mother again; I would be all alone in the world and it would be forever.

It was then I heard the most wonderful sound in the world. I heard a voice in the wilderness of Sears calling my name. I looked up, wiped the tears out of my eyes, and I saw my mom. I ran to her and she ran to me, and we hugged for a very long time, and I never felt so loved.

Today, hardly anyone gets lost anymore. We don’t let our children out of our sight, for we fear terrible things will happen to them. We buy stuff to protect us from getting lost: GPS devices, cell phones, and other gadgets. We create illusions that we know where we are going. We build walls that create the illusion that we are in control, but these walls end up dividing and destroying. Have you noticed that the more we think we can’t get lost, the more the unknown becomes not gracious, but suspicious? The more a stranger is seen as a potential enemy rather than friend?

So we isolate ourselves to a point that we start to live under a false notion that we can be self-reliant. Bonheoffer said it best when he said, “The opposite of peace is security and as long as we seek security we will never be at peace.”

So, I think, we need to get lost, for without doing so, we will not be able to explore, risk the unknown, or do anything differently. Studies have shown that the more uncertain times become, the more certain people become. We have even been known to create God in our own image during such times.

I don’t know about you, but I have felt a bit of uncertainty about Holden these past few years. And with such uncertainty there is a tendency to want to take charge, to be in control, and risk little. Creation is eagerly waiting for God’s children to be revealed. I am not sure what will be revealed, but I am certain nothing will be revealed with either/or and black/white thinking. Nor by thinking we can get back to what Holden was. Creation eagerly longs for God’s children to explore and to be free and open.

Holden has been through a lot these last few years: leadership changes, various companies using this Village and creating dust, noise, and lots and lots of chaos. It would be easy to get burned out. It would be easy to just want to get back to the way things were. It would be easy to murmur a lot. It would be easy to think we have had enough change.

And yet, Creation is waiting. We are called not to get back to what once was. We are called not to become Holden again, whatever that means. We are rather called to see how God is making all things new. This means exploring new ways of being and living. This means that spending less time believing we are the ones in control. This means listening to our neighbors, our partners, and the powers of Creation.

In order to do this, we need to get lost, “not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us.” Historian Aaron Sachs has said, “Explorers were always lost, because they’d never been to the place they were going. Explorers never expected to know exactly where they were.” And neither should we. Sachs does add a grace note about explores when he says, “Their most important skill was simply a sense of optimism about finding their way.”

This is what I honor in Holden: the sense of hope when one is lost – lost in the chaos of mine remediation, executive director searches, worries about guests returning, and on and on and on. Through it all, Holden reaches out to proclaim that our lostness is good.

Rebecca Solnit, in a wonderful book called A Field Guide to Getting Lost, tells us that “lost” really has two different meanings. “Losing things is about the familiar falling away” and “getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.” Get it? We can’t live in fear of losing things or losing what was. If we do, we will continue to live in a state of fear and scarcity. We rather need to live in the hope that God will make all things new, and that includes Holden.

So I ask you, can we get lost? Maybe Holden needs to develop a bumper sticker with the line drawing of our mountains and underneath the drawing the words: Get Lost at Holden.

You see sometimes, for us to experience God anew, we need to leave our understandings of God behind, to get lost from them, and when lost, we may just hear a voice crying our name in the wilderness. And when this happens, our tears and Creation’s tears will dry up, and we will run to each other and hug for a very long time. And we will have never felt so loved!