This year, my wife and I experienced the culmination of Holy Week in a very unique and special place: Holden Village – a Lutheran retreat center in the North Cascade mountains of Washington State. The site of an active copper mine from the 1930s until its closure in 1957, it is operated as a year-round center for retreat, learning, and worship. I had heard of it for years from some of the others in the Compline Choir who are regulars, but it was my first time there.
To get to Holden, one has to take a boat, the “Lady of the Lake,” up Lake Chelan for about an hour and a half, disembark, and form a “bucket brigade” to pass baggage and supplies to the old school bus that meets the boat. The bus then drives up a one-lane gravel road twelve miles into the mountains which surround the former mining town. We felt privileged to be the last visitors there before the village closed to guests for the summer, due to the arrival of hundreds of workers on an environmental mine remediation project; Holden will be open again to summer guests in 2016. There is a permanent staff throughout the year, made up of volunteers who commit to a period of service for many months or years. There are many young college graduates working at Holden before moving on to the next phase of their lives.
We got there on Good Friday, and the service that evening was very moving, with the community gathered around the foot of the cross. Many people contributed to the worship in different ways – reading, singing, playing instruments. The feeling of community was palpable, with parents of staff members visiting for Easter, and with many children of staff members, who attend a one-room school in the village. Needless to say, their teachers were in the community as well.
The Easter Vigil was unique, with the lessons at the beginning proclaimed in different locations and media throughout the village. The Eucharist was followed by a dessert extravaganza in the dining hall. And Easter Morning Matins was also celebrated in the hall, complete with an excellent bell choir:
Lent and Easter have been very special times for us at Compline; you can listen to many services of exquisite music at www.complinepodcast.org. We’ve also been working toward a special Peter Hallock Gala Tribute Concert on May 9, with the chamber choir Opus 7.
Here’s an Easter hymn for you, “Lift your voice rejoicing, Mary,” from the beginning of our podcast from the Third Sunday of Easter. Christ the Lord is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!
Lift your voice rejoicing, Mary,
Christ has risen from the tomb;
on the cross a suffering victim,
now as victor he is come.
Whom your tears in death were mourning,
welcome with your smiles returning.
Let your alleluias rise!
Raise your weary eyelids, Mary,
see him living evermore;
see his countenance, how gracious,
see the wounds for you he bore.
All the glory of the morning
pales before those wounds redeeming.
Let your alleluias rise!
Life is yours for ever, Mary,
for your light is come once more
and the strength of death is broken;
now your songs of joy outpour.
Ended now the night of sorrow,
love has brought the blessed morrow.
Let your alleluias rise.