St. Isaac of Syria - S128
The Season of Change
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven....” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Glory be to Jesus Christ!
The cool nights have come already to our quiet valley this August to prepare us for the transition from Summer to Fall, and from the heat of June and July to the engaging breezes of September. The grass is growing again, the leaves have a hint of color, and the birds and animals are sensing the season’s change like we are, feeling that Winter follows each Fall and we should use our time and energy wisely. Some birds have already left us to begin their Fall migrations. The trees on the wooden hills around us stand attentively, like sentries listening carefully for their call to change, and all of Nature too is listening quietly, and waiting — and waiting. Shortly this changing time will come for us all. Listen, it is coming in the silence of twilight and the pre-dawn light.
Each season has its blessings, for all are tied to Him Who wisely made the times and seasons for us all. It only becomes apparent, however, when we look for the blessings that always surround us. In our life here at the Skete, half communal and half hermitic, the shift of this season means more time in the evenings and night to draw inside and call out to Him Who calls out to us, from the deep of Heaven to the deep of our souls. There is an ascent here too, for when we choose the truly good, not just the pleasant or appealing, then we too are changed, from darkness to light, and from smallness to wider perceptions. It is in the silence of the quiet back valley that this transition is most apparent.
Our Recent Projects Completed or in Process
Much has changed since we wrote to you last. Good things. Kind things. Helpful things. Generous things. They have moved rapidly. When the time is right with God, then all of Creation moves forward, often with unexpected help from both God and men. We at the Skete have experienced this directly this last Spring and Summer. It was your generosity and prayers that have helped us move forward on our goal to complete the Common Monastic Building so that we can spend more quality time in the profound silence and stillness of the secluded back peaceful valley.
Since our last written newsletter, we have been able to completely finish: the back room with sheet rock, texturing, painting, wood trimming the windows and doors, and finishing the floor tile. Then the room was set up with a workable food pantry, an office, and a tool and paint area. What a blessing! It is so beautiful and practical, and the beginning of the fulfillment of the thirteen year old dream for monastic use.
Just in the last few weeks we have finished the sheetrock repairs in the rest of the building (from water damage years ago to just new building settling), and the re-painting is being done while this is written and will be completed this week. A generous contractor has pledged to install the floor tiles over the cement in the next month or so in the rest of the building. This will be in the dining room (trapeza), entry room, kitchen, laundry room and showers on the first floor. He will also put in the floor tile in the upstairs bathroom and storage room. We already have the basic floor tiles here and paid for that job.
Another generous local solar contractor has kindly given four new solar panels with the rails to install them and will help set up what is needed for our water, heating, and lighting needs. This is an amazing blessing freely offered. This contractor has lived off of the electric grid himself with his family for the last ten years. He knows how to do this from the ground up.
Our fund-raising has allowed us to meet the two recent matching fund offers: one for $5,000 for the well and pump and pressure tank for our water system, and another for $3,000 for the septic system with the commercial kitchen grease trap and its connections. Your generosity has provided the means to begin to do these projects this Fall. They are both in the process of being scheduled. An inexpensive full bed pickup truck was found to replace our older one which had died of old age and wear and tear, which gives us the means to haul firewood, brush, garbage and building materials as needed. We had been without a working truck for about three months.
Lastly, we were able to find and trade up for two better used lawn mowers by selling or trading three older lawn mowers for almost the same monies. This completes our outdoor equipment assortment to effectively manage all of our outdoor maintenance needs. We now have a small working tractor with its attachments, a skid steer (like a Bobcat) with its attachments, a self-propelled brush hog, a large used zero-turn lawn mower, two smaller used riding mowers, and small hand lawn mower, two working chain saws, a gas powered hydraulic log-spitter, and two weed-whippers, with one small storage shed already built.
Common Monastic Building - Spring 2012
Our Currently Pending Projects
There are three current projects that we are asking you now to help complete. The first is, to buy the trim tile for the rest of the Common Monastic Building so that when the volunteer contractor comes to put down the floor, these floors will be completely finished. This will cost $1,300. This provides a backsplash of 8 inches up each wall for future easier mopping and cleaning, a needed improvement. We expect this work to be done in September, and possibly into early October. The tile for each room has to be there to complete that room. Please help because this is coming soon.
The second project is the rest of the monies needed beyond the $6,000 already raised for the septic system. The matching funds only covered one third of the expense, our fundraising so far for this project covers another third, but the last third is still needed. It will cost another $3,000. There is only a small window left to put in the septic system, pay the fees to the county for a new permit, and to re-draw the plans for approval with a kitchen grease trap included. It is scheduled for installation in mid to late September before the weather turns. The well will be drilled just before this work begins. Those well installation monies are already set aside. We need your help to come up with the $3,000 balance for the plumber when he comes this September. Please help us now.
Decorative Tile in the Floor to Wall Backsplash (Close Up)
The Septic Field Marked near the Common Building
New Site for the New Steel Sheds
The third project is also time-sensitive, as we were contacted by a church group of volunteers that wanted to come to build something for the Skete that could be accomplished in one weekend. They wanted something that is really needed with the plan and all of the materials handy so it could go from start to finish, mostly on a long Saturday workday. They have scheduled the day for the coming Saturday, September 8th, the week after Labor Day.
We have already purchased all of the roof trusses for two 12 foot by 24 foot steel storage sheds, and have drawn the plans, set the location, and arranged so that they can be completed in one day. These will store in the back valley the tractor and all its accessories, and the skid-steer (like a Bobcat) and its accessories, with a few other outdoor maintenance tools. This will complete the storage of all of our outdoor maintenance equipment in the back valley with the other smaller shed already built. The labor is free and eager. All we need is another $2,900 to buy the lumber, steel roofing and siding, and fasteners. The opportunity is pressing, and God-sent. Help us do this project, and let this wonderful volunteer group feel the satisfaction of completing a really needed set of buildings for the Skete’s operations. Your help would be a great blessing.
Thank you for your support and for being such a tangible part of our lives! We feel your prayers and pray for you each day. Let us know how you are doing and the challenges of your life. Keep us in your daily prayers. May Christ give each of you an abundant heart and mind so that you will joyfully fit into the Kingdom of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. You are close to us, stay in touch.
God bless you and keep you in His Holy Name,
Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The monastics of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
and the Convent of St. Silouan,
and the community at St. Nicholas Church
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