Our Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Bless! The Lord!
When we look back over each year, as we often do in the Nativity Holiday Season, we have a chance to reflect on what we thought, what we hoped, what we dreamed, and then what actually happened to us and those we love. Life is truly filled with surprises, but with thankfulness on our part, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “all things work together for good….” (Rom 8:28)
This year has been full of surprises for us here at St. Isaac’s Skete. We would like to share with you some of that journey, both easy and hard, that we lived through since the last Nativity Season. When we share with those in our minds and hearts (and all of you we write to each season are in our minds and hearts as we pray for you with love) then we are connected into a spiritual family that has wonderful dimensions beyond this world.
Christ will make us citizens of Heaven, if we just reach out to Him humbly and then sincerely try to live a life filled with the goodness that is His nature. It is this connection that makes us a family of “one Lord, one Faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph 4:5-6)
Recent Challenges at the Skete
First, the surprises. Several weather events were distressing to our small valley here in S.W. Wisconsin. Early Spring rains caused strong spring run-offs, washing out our road from the front valley church to the back valley monastic cells. Later, in July, a terrible wind and rain storm blew through both the front and back valleys, downing electric lines, and we were without power for several days- no water, no sewer, freezers defrosted, and no icon production. A part of a roof blew off our production buildings and landed on a propane tank. Many trees were knocked down, including five landing on our guest house which was totally destroyed.
After removing the debris, and then cutting down any standing trees near the site for a newer guest house that we already had parked and waiting, our skid steer (like a Bobcat, but a different brand) upended when trying to remove a downed tree, and this broke the motor so it is completely inoperable. We use the skid steer to keep our road cleared and leveled back after runoff makes the road impassible. We also use it every week to move the cut wood to our boiler that heats the Common Monastic Building. We are having to do this now by hand, which is very hard.
On a more basic level, our donations have suffered from a lack of ability to use our mailing program which inadvertently sent out our last donation appeal to a list that was outdated over 15 years before. Our daily needs are truly very, vary hard to meet just now.
We have had good things too. Our new web site is up and beautiful and mobile-friendly. We have many new custom icons now, and many, many more on the way. Our place to move our newer guest house is finally cleared, and it is much nicer than the one before for guests who come. The Common Monastic Building is functioning well, just waiting for some more storage and kitchen equipment and cabinets to be fully functional. For all these good things we are most thankful. Mostly, we are thankful for you and all those we come in contact with throughout the year, in person, by mail and telephone, by email, and by prayer.
Help us give thanks with your prayerful support to deepen our spiritual life here, to pray with fervor for the world and all of its people, so many suffering now, and to prepare to celebrate His Glorious Nativity, born of a Virgin in a cave so long ago, and so may He be born in all of us this Nativity Season in our hearts warmed with love.
Please help us now with a generous donation so we may continue to live our prayerful monastic life here at St. Isaac’s Skete and the Convent of St. Silouan. God bless you!
Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The monastics of St. Isaac of Syria Skete
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