In June 2022, CCGS Faith Land Initiative team members E.N. West and Meli Morales traveled to Holden Village to co-teach “From Land Owning to Land Stewarding: Lessons in Discernment from the Faith Land Initiative”. E generously shared the following reflection (originally posted on social media, shared here with E’s permission).


How to describe a place like Holden Village?✨

Well, there are the facts: Remote. Wilderness. Village. Off-grid. Retreat Center. Spiritual. Communal. 🌲

There’s the feelings: Calm. Peace. Joy. Friendly. Open. Inspired. Challenged. Complicated. 🤲🏾

And of course, there’s the fun: Hiking. Teaching. Learning. Singing. Playing. Sweating in the sauna. Awaiting evening ice cream. Laughing at wild family stories. Making friends easily. Eliminating the invisible line between humans and non-human relatives. Marveling at the beauty of creation. Marveling at the different passage of time. Marveling at the co-creation that occurs when we create space and move slow. 🏔


My colleague Meli & I traveled by car, boat, bus (& back) to Holden Village on behalf of the Faith Land Initiative of The Church Council of Greater Seattle (my part-time job). We were there to share about lessons learned in accompanying faith communities through discerning faithful land use. 💒

I’ve been thinking a lot about something Meli said in passing – “as folks working on land issues, it’s important for us to have time to actually connect with the land we’re talking about.”

🤔Yet, isn’t it true for so many of us in this line of work (and work like it) that we focus so much on the busyness of “doing the work” that we can neglect to actually connect with the very thing (or relative, in this case) that inspired us in the first place?

💭And isn’t it interesting that a place designed for disconnection (from internet, from busyness, from a purely extractive economy, and from our everyday Western whirl) turned out to be the perfect place for connection?

A place like Holden Village is perhaps best described by the sound of the rushing creek, the sight of a curious bear, the taste of a marionberry sorbet, the feel of hot water after a long & wet hike, the smell of sweet lavender.

A marvel.✨

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