"It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery and the mystery of him in whose image he is created, is silence, solitude -- in a word, the desert. Modern man needs these things more than the hermits of old." Catherine Doherty

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A new blog entry about new visitors who breath new life into our work efforts, as well as teaching us all about eating vegetarian!

August brings strong young backs as we host two college students from Connecticut.
This young man came up for a two week retreat to break away from the hectic world and find some peace of mind working on the organic farm before 
he graduates from college next spring.
Another student in the “class room of silence”. 
(A quote from Matthew Kelly.)

His first work order was to create a new burn pit for old wood scraps.

Next he was working alongside us as we dug out a new insulated pipe system for the outdoor furnace, that would use wood off the property to heat the main house and the church and chapel. That coupled with out hydro power plans will strive to make us more self sufficient. But first we needed to dig out the tunnel for the pipes to pass through!

It was dirty work as we dug deep enough to reach into the earth and clear a passage (sometimes with our bare hands up to our shoulders!) for the insulated pipe to run to the furnace from the house and church.

Once the tunnel was clear the job became a series of pulling and tugging by everyone until the pipe finally surfaced in the furnace shed, 80 feet from the house where it started.

With a little watching over by Mary, the job was indeed a success.

Next on the agenda: roof repairs at the Chapel,..difficult and slippery work for all of us in the relentless rain!

In the days that followed there was much food taken from the vegetable garden and our young visitor cooked many delicious vegetarian meals for the whole house!

On another rainy day a young lady came up to work for a few days and “get away from it all” so we all thought it seemed like a good time to clean out the chicken and turkey coops!

After a few weeks of wonderful home grown food, delightful fellowship and many long hikes we said farewell to this charming and enthusiastic young lady. The same day she left for home, the young man’s father arrived to live out his dream of working a farm on a tractor. How could we say no?

And when it came time for dinner, they returned to the garden with Cathy for more amazing and delicious vegetarian fare.

It was a very productive two weeks, with much renovation and construction work accomplished, as well as much prayer time. What a Blessing. 

We will miss these folks, but the very next day another retreater arrived for a private “poustinia” style hermitage retreat. He was a very kind and helpful man who filled his seven days here with work on the gardens, in the chapel and in quiet moments of prayer.

Towards the end of his visit he seemed to enjoy the apple pie with apples from our orchard very much!

His wonderful sense of humor, faith filled conversations and generous spirit will be missed, 
hopefully we will see him again next year! (We'll have the pies ready!)

Later that same day some day hikers came to explore the trails. On the same afternoon a few more visitors  came to spend quiet prayer time in the Chapel. Then before dinner a family from New Jersey came by to let the kids see the animals while Mom and Dad planned for a family retreat next summer.

The Mary Theotokos Spiritual Retreat Center is certainly fulfilling its’ goal of hospitality and a place of spiritual renewal for people from all walks of life.

We hope you will visit too, and tell your friends,..a website is on the way! I will keep you posted.

Pax et Bonum 

from the Mary Theotokos Spiritual Retreat Center.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

This week at Mary Theotokos, Mass, hay, retreats and goats prowl for food!

More harmonious fellowship abounds at The Mary Theotokos Spiritual Retreat Center. In this update you will see pictures and hear about a series of latest retreats, a visit from the Bishop, animal escapes and the all consuming experience of haying between the rain drops. So scroll away and enjoy these moments from Mary Theotokos.

As July drew to a close the daily renovation work continues in full swing. Water projects from distant wells are rerouted, rivers are diverted, electrical, plumbing and of course the daily farm schedule! 
So you can imagine how thrilled we were when a family from Rhode Island called to come up for a working retreat. 
What a blessing!

After much work in the garden one of our retreaters wanted to do some tractor work. 
In this shot John explains the basics or driving the Kubota.

Within a few seconds she is on her way; moving large stones for the church porch foundation repairs. She promised to go slow but after two trips she has located the throttle and is looking for speed.

The garden work is a favorite part of recent retreats. Here Cathy decides what needs to be done for our group dinner as well as for donating to the local food shelves.

This family enjoyed working in the garden a lot and,…

…they also enjoyed cooking, a lot! Now that is my favorite kind of retreat work force!

Saying grace and breaking bread together, a wonderful time after all the work harvesting the food and cooking it.

Our meal is followed by good conversation and more fellowship.

The last day for this group was spent in the “classroom” of silence where one can really get in touch with who they are and be quiet enough to hear God speak cor ad cor, (heart to heart) on a nature hike through our woods.

Our farm dog Gurly wants to be in every shot!

After a few great days of wonderful fellowship, good food and much work we say goodbye to our retreaters and look forward to their return visit.

But there were more visitors to come! As mentioned on our last update, Bishop Emeritus Basil Losten of the Stamford Eparchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church came to visit. 

It was a lovely visit with a Mass that was open to the public, an informative lecture 
and Q & A on the Eastern Rite, a lovely meal and much planning for the future of the Mary Theotokos Spiritual Retreat center. We are lucky to have such a generous and caring leader to help this facility reach its mission.

Now onto to darker side of farming. The goats and their agenda. When they realized how busy we were they decided to make their move. The goats have schemes; to escape to the orchard, eat every apple or cherry that they can get, then to destroy every flower garden possible, with an ultimate target: gaining entry to the main house! 

Here they explore the limits of their coral, and discover a way out.

The hens follow after the goats in hopes of making their escape as well.
Little do they know they are free rangers already.

Once on the outside the goats try to make a deal with the dog in hopes of getting the orchard gate open or worse, the front door of the house open! Fortunately the dog, Gurly, suspects the goats intentions as evil.

Without the dogs’ help the goats make a daring attempt to rush the orchard gates but soon become tangled up!

This amuses the ducks to no end. The ducks often take time to laugh at the antics of their barn yard neighbors.

Persistence pays off as the goats locate a forgotten step ladder in the back of the barn!

With time running out and recapture eminent, the goats locate the Walkers youngest daughter and convince her, an animal lover, to open the front door and let them in the main house so they can complete their mission of destruction!

All appears to be working well for the goats till the girl takes another look at the situation and suddenly decides that perhaps these animals might be OK in the mud room but they do NOT belong inside the main house, certainly not in her play room!

(AP Press Photo)

Suddenly the whole caper is disrupted as John makes his appearance after hearing the goats’ pitter patter in the mud room. In seconds he steps in to make the arrest and escorts the trouble makers back to the barn yard. 

(AP Press)

But the goats have yet another plan to lure the unsuspecting Cathy into their foul schemes as captured here in by the AP press covering the daring escape and recapture.

Meanwhile it is time to HAY! With help from a neighboring farm, during a respite from the rain, the fields are cut, dried and made ready for bales.

Once the hay is baled, the hay wagon is transferred to the other tractor and towed to the loft conveyer belt with eager helpers coming along.

Nothing for it now but hot and dirty work unloading the hay onto the belt and up to the loft.

Haying means all hands on deck whether in the loft or on the ground.

The kids find a way to have fun as they roll the hay corals out to the meadow to prepare for the other livestock.

Currently we are able to provide a lot of veggies on our mission to help the poor through acts of charity in the local community but with luck and more hay we hope to provide meat and poultry as well to local food shelves.
All in all a very exciting and hard working few weeks at Mary Theotokos filled with fellowship, prayer and joy.
What every week should be!

Pax et Bonum from The Mary Theotokos Spiritual Retreat center in Vermont.
We hope you will visit us soon.