Christ Pantocrator - J72
Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Bless! The Lord!
Today the Skete valley is vibrant with the fullness of a delicate Spring green as the trees have just unfurled their leaves this last week, and the carpet of grass is growing now abundantly. Many robins have been hopping across the grass looking for food, and the other birds have come back in number--already there are red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, rose-breasted grosbeaks, woodpeckers, swallows, bluebirds, catbirds, warblers, finches, orioles, and cowbirds; with morning doves cooing in pairs in the cool hours, hawks and turkey vultures soaring above in the bright blue sky with little white clouds, the local abundant population of wild turkeys that Boscobel is famous for seen here and there, and a group of goldfinches taking baths in our nearby spring-fed stream. Everything is growing, alive, and thriving. It is a time for renewal and growth.
This is not just outward, but inward too. With Pascha, or Easter, passed now, the final throes of cold weather finally moving away, and with a very rainy season breaking enough now for the sun to shine again brightly, it is also time for us to be thankful for the past Lenten Season’s blessings in our lives, and for these to take hold in our hearts and minds this Spring and the Paschal Season. Gardens are not just planted in the ground, but more importantly, they must also be planted inside our hearts where the warmth of love and the moisture of repentance can bring forth fruit in abundance. If we plant with God, we will reap with Him too. For this we must learn to live constantly in His presence and let His Light shine upon us. If we ask Him humbly, He will come and abide with us. He is waiting expectantly at the door.
The Common Monastic Building This Spring
A number of branches have fallen down over the Winter and a few trees too, one sizeable, and we are clearing the scattered gravel from last season’s snow plowing. Spring clean up has already begun even before our township has its special days. The farmers nearby are ready to plant as soon as the ground is dry enough, and depending on the field, some is happening now. All their equipment was well-maintained and ready to go as they waited through the nearly five weeks of rain almost every day. We were all ready for the rain and cold to pass, and it has. Spring has sprung!
Our time spent in organization over the Winter has been helpful, and we are continuing this through the change now into real Spring. Two out-buidings have been cleaned out, and all of the things stored sorted through, cleaned, and then what was saved was put back with other storage items added. The focus for this Spring will be picking up again all of our outdoor maintenance which was so improved over the last two years, and trying to finish as soon as possible what is left for construction in the Common Monastic Building. It has moved forwards even during the Lenten Season, and is starting to look and feel more complete. It has come a long way in the last 18 months of fund-raising and construction by your generosity. With some more help, this is still possible to get more done this Spring leading into Summer.
The Upper Library and Dormitory
The upper floors have all been sanded and finished. All of the wood trim, posts, and beams are now sanded and finished too and when the wood baseboards are installed, that part of the building will be substantially done. Nothing really looks finished until it is finished and it is looking much more finished now. Half of the kitchen and laundry areas are also now tiled, with a theme of added decorative tile visually tying together the floors, walls, and windows.
The last part of the heating, water, drains, solar-powered electric lines, and propane lines should be installed and finished within the next few weeks, and then the opened walls to accommodate all of these mechanical lines will be able to be closed, and then tiled to finish these two most practical rooms. A new kitchen design to accommodate all of the future appliances and workspaces was completed in the last two months since the last Lenten newsletter. As mentioned in that newsletter, a lot of energy and help there has happened this last year to move this practical building far along towards its completion. Thank you for your continued generosity as all the means to do this were fund-raised in the last eighteen months.
We still need your help to move this forward and finish it. The next items needed are over twenty five feet of upper and lower kitchen cabinets for the kitchen and dining room to store everything needed for these rooms, and also two toilets, sinks, and showers so the plumbing and septic installations can be of some use. The plumbing fixtures and the rest of their installation will only cost an additional $4,500, for some of the water lines, drains, and fixtures were already put in and paid for during Lent. All of the upper and lower kitchen cabinets will cost about $3,000. Please help us finish the building for actual use. A gift of $5, $25, $100, $250, or $500 would move this right along and keep the momentum going. Every little bit helps. Thank you.
The Kitchen with Tile and Mechanicals
The Laundry Room in Construction
We also are asking for some more general financial support for the monastics daily life. Although all of us struggle to make ends meet and many of those means have shrunk over these last few years, ours have done so even more than most households. While the monastics continue to live a quite frugal life, we still try to help others as we can. People come here often for that help, and we try then to help at least a little anyone who asks, giving food, gas, a listening ear, or energy to help them with some task. Please continue to help us help them, and help us keep our prayerful life strong so that we may pray for you and all those we have been asked to pray. You, our benefactors, are prayed for intently each day. Thank you for your continued support and prayers and for being such a real part of our lives. It is important to us to have this prayerful relationship with all of you.
Spring and its abundance has come now at last. We are looking to plant both outwardly and inwardly the means to grow our life in this abundance, yet still meekly and with a humble spirit. We can all, both monastic and Laity, grow together in this work in this Paschal Season from Spring into Summer. May we remember to thank God for His abundant love for us, and His tender care for our genuine needs in this blessed time, and turn to Him again and again in loving dependence while reaching out to others who are in need. If we have a generous heart, then God will fill us with joy and gladness, and Springtime will have truly come as Heaven is revealed within. This is a joy that cannot be tarnished or dimmed indeed. May we all invite this unending joy to come to us. O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Amen.
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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