- Ezekiel 47:9
Holden Village, Summer 2012
Reflection by A. Locke
Holden Village lies at the boundary of Glacier Wilderness, several miles up a steep dead-end road from Lake Chelan in Washington. I am spending a week at this Lutheran retreat center, a true village community filled with classes, worship, music, arts, and fellowship.
“Where the river flows, life abounds!” I am sitting on the banks of Railroad Creek contemplating this verse. This summer the creek is roaring with abundant runoff from the nearby mountain peaks. The whole scene feels sacred. In Ezekiel, the river is flowing from under the temple that is to be built, and Ezekiel learns that this sacred water will bring life wherever it flows. I think about the river metaphor, and all that rivers mean to creation: a source of food and water, a way to travel, a place to be cleansed and baptized. It is easy to contemplate rivers and life in the wilderness.
Then I look downstream. There sits the 120-acre mine tailings site, an enormous rust-colored pile along the banks of the creek, leftovers from the Howe Sound Holden Mine that closed in 1957. Contaminants have been seeping into Railroad Creek for several decades. Now, a major mine remediation project is gearing up to protect Railroad Creek and Lake Chelan from these toxins.
“Where the river flows, life abounds!” A visiting Presbyterian pastor noted at vespers that we tend to want to make this poisoned pile about “them”, the mining company, but it is our pile, too. The pile is physical evidence of the price of our Western lifestyle and an unwillingness (until now) to clean up after ourselves. How often do we, as humans, keep God’s rivers from bringing life because of our greed or short-sightedness?
The river and the rust-colored pile now become a metaphor for my inner life. I think about the times I have poisoned the river with jealousy and close-mindedness. I think about how often I have dammed the flow, trying to keep things the way they are out of fear of change. How can I keep God’s river flowing in my own heart? A thought from a fellow villager and MoTA member comes to mind: “Humility means to be teachable.” Yes. Keeping God’s river flowing means allowing constant renewal through a willingness to learn, to search, to consider the new, and paradoxically, to surrender. We are all being called to allow God’s rivers to flow so that life may abound.