What a better way to take a break from finals week than to read our blog series on the spring break experience to Holden Village! All jokes aside, many parts of Holden are infused into our communal life together, including regularly singing Holden Evening Prayer and Mountain Vespers in worship, and continually using The Prayer of Good Courage during our senior sending. Hear from students who went on the spring break trip and what their takeaways from this unique community are.
By Mara Bowman
As we’re in the midst of the chaos of finals, we can see the light and hope of summer in the distance…barely. For some of us it is right there, so close we can touch it. Maybe for you it seems more distant, where you have to squint really hard to believe it and see that it’s there.
Whichever one you’re experiencing, the end is there, I promise. I believe in you!
In college, we often surround ourselves with the narrative of being stressed and exhausted and we rarely experience any sense of rest or calm. This stress is real and it’s valid to feel that burden. It can also become overwhelming when this is the only story we tell ourselves. When this is the only narrative I surround myself with—that I am a stressed, overworked college student with constant responsibility—I lose sight that (as Pastor Kate says) that I am a human being, not a human doing. I then find it hard to feel peace in many capacities.
When I am incapable of sensing inner or external peace, I feel out of touch with God.
For those of you who either know me, or are a part of the LCM community, you’ve likely heard a lot about our trip to Holden. When LCM traveled to Holden Village over spring break, I reconnected with this feeling of extreme peace.
Traveling to Holden was an experience in and of itself. In a 36-hour time frame we jumped from train, to bus, to boat, to bus, before arriving at Holden. As the boat swept past the snow covered mountains, and as the bus climbed higher and higher through switchbacks, silence fell over our pretty chatty group. We were all grateful for the silence we experienced throughout the trip, especially with the lack of cell reception. The connection lost between us and the outside world created an inner sense of quiet.
One night while stargazing, a group of us were filled with a sense of terror-spiked awe at how all-encompassing the universe is. We so rarely take a step back to spend a moment in time outside of ourselves and our current struggles. Suddenly everything about my own existence seemed so insignificant compared to the intricate workings of the world around me. The infinite space beyond earth which I am incapable of comprehending was a reminder of how much more there is beyond my current reality. There is more to me than my stress as a college student or my grades. There is more to my existence than my accomplishments throughout my lifetime. This feeling of peace that washed over me I like to call, my “Holden moment.”
Although we got lost in our reflections and existentialist thoughts, it was incredibly grounding how God reminded me in that moment that the Holy Spirit’s encompassing presence is a transcendent embodiment of peace in our chaotic lives, in a turbulent world, and whatever else extends beyond that. What does it mean for us to find peace in daily life? We very rarely have the opportunity to escape from life’s hardships, or to run to the mountains and just ignore everything for a while.
When I was walking outside the other day, I looked up at the sky and saw an incredible sunset. Its cotton candy color reminded me instantly of the sunset we had seen at Holden, and its similar pink hues which had brushed the tops of the mountains.
It seemed so poetic to me that even though I was no longer in Holden, a place that was set apart from the cacophony of daily life, I still walk under the same sky. I still walk in a world where I can feel my own Holden moments on a daily basis, whether it is through laughter, talking with a friend, getting to watch students learn and grow in my practicum classroom, or simply experiencing moments of silence. I still walk in a world where I can experience peace amidst stress, exhaustion or hardship.
There is nowhere I can go where God will not also be.
Although I do not always feel the same serenity I experienced at Holden, God’s peace wraps around us even in the unsteadiness of daily life. Within our moments of hopelessness, loss, anxiety, depression, or anger, we must navigate how to discern God’s love and presence amidst hardship. God doesn’t leave when things get hard.
I am blessed to have been able to discern that peace in many aspects of my life, even when bombarded by deadlines, or if I’m feeling burned out. Holden helped to awaken that discernment within me, in ways I hadn’t thought of before.