It's been a busy month so far with retreats and animals and some beautiful weather, which is nice to think about given the snow flurries outside today and promise of lows around
25 degrees Fahrenheit tonight, ah spring in Vermont.
First off we have some big news; the first of the spring kidding season began on Friday May 3rd, at 3 PM when Megan, delivered 3 babies in the garden. I am not making up all the three's, we all sat back and scratched our heads on that one, Megan must have a real Trinitarian streak in her.
It was a nice sunny day and Cathy had just let all the goats into the garden to eat up the weeds and left overs to get the garden ready for the spring tilling.
Cathy went into the house to grab some garden tools and when she came back out there was a real high pitched squeal from the shady spot along the garden fence. (A little shady tarp I put up the day before) When Cathy got over there all the goats were standing still staring at Megan who had finished pushing out the last baby goat, and cleaning them off!
End tally was two males and one female added to the herd.
I was in town when I got the urgent call from Cathy, who acted as midwife to momma goat;
It was really helpful that Cathy was there and it didn't happen late at night or when we were gone, but Megan as old as she is did a great job from cleaning the little ones up to biting off the umbilical cords to nursing them.
Though the little goobers needed a bit of help to latch on.
God has a way of really filling a day with these simple moments of amazement and wonder.
Pretty amazing event.
The kids ran to the house up the driveway really excited.
They were even more excited to name these little cuties.
So,..apparently their names are Sean, Fawn and Fred.
That does really look like she's smiling...
OK onto to more routine events.
Retreats have been coming by the bus load, or car load really.
We had the Franciscans Third Order day retreat, when
the driveway filled up with cars as the third order Franciscans came to hold their meeting.
Next we had two women who came in the retreat center like a whirlwind of energy, love and fun!
The old grey one on the left is me, but then comes Rita in the brown dress and then in the blue shirt is Mary.
Sometimes when retreats come the folks want to be alone and be quiet in prayer, sometimes it's a group with a specific agenda and workshops, but these two came and the whole retreat center came alive as if some one changed all our light bulbs in our house from 40 watts to 120 watts. Great fun.
Now don't misunderstand these two ladies found lots of time to pray in the chapel, contemplate during walks through the woods, but the fellowship and love of the faith they brought was just wonderful to experience.
And boy they were ready to pitch in anywhere! Feeding animals, making a meal, taking a tour, going for ice cream, no task was too dirty or daunting for these two.
Mary has restored an old rectory in the plains states and was used to animals. Rita didn't shy away from the chickens either, but something happened when she saw the goats.
At first it was "oh how cute" and then it was all about...
"How do I put these two in my purse and take them home?"
During their retreat we had our weekly Marian consecration group. It was a surprise to find that Mary was very much connected to this total devotion to Jesus through Mary already. In fact she came with our retreat book we used for these groups, "33 days to morning glory" by Fr. Gaitley, plus other books by him and even accounts of meeting him several times! We were all surprised by the coincidence on this one. And as before with these two dynamos Mary and Rita brought even more exuberance to our Marian consecration meeting.
After a meet and greet we went into the living room where the projection system is located and began the Fr. Gaitley, "33 days to morning glory" Marian retreat from www.allheartsafire.org
The retreat runs 33 days and culminates with a Mass, a consecration prayer, Adoration and confession. Each workshop meets once a week where we watch short videos
from the Marian Brothers in Stockbridge, Massachusetts hosted by Fr. Gaitley, then there are prayers and litanies (which change for each week's group meeting/workshop) plus there are readings and discussions.
Having done this retreat before I can personally vouch for the transformational power of this consecration process. It is enlightening, educating and empowering to one's faith journey. And, I can't think of a better series of workshops to offer then one that brings people closer to Jesus through Mary at a retreat center named Mary, the Mother of God! It seems very fitting to do this all important work here.
Later on we learned that Mary was quite and artist in her own right!
Aside from religious statues and a beautiful series of Monstrances she has sold to churches and adoration chapels, she is an accomplished print maker and jeweler who designs and creates her own series of religious rings and bracelets.
You should really go to her website and check out her work, maybe even buy some stuff; it is really impressive and beautiful creations for Christ. Check it out yourself at
www.joshuasstone.net located in Sterling Colorado.
And talking about talent, Rita is quite an accomplished photographer. She has published one book and is currently working on another, about retreat centers.
Here are some of her shots she sent me after they left.
Our Chapel altar,
Our Chapel relic of St. Anthony,
It was very sad to see Rita and Mary leave, hopefully this is just the "beginning of a beautiful friendship" to quote Bogart.
Now with the animals it's back to work getting hay, on a bartering system with neighbors. Bartering is an important system we use here as much as possible in order to live up to that Chestertonian Distributist philosophy!
Seems like the dog is the only one with any brains in this operation, sitting it out in the shade dreaming about later that day when she will be herding goats back from the pastures again.
But there is plenty of work to be done, with summer coming quick it's time for much more painting and fixing and planting before and during the scheduled retreats; which are piling up as well.
But I can still find some time to take a walk with my daughter and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of this refuge,
We hope you too will find some time for a Marian consecration retreat or even simply a Franciscan moment with the animals or even just some quiet time, quiet enough to hear the Lord speaking to your heart.
All those activities await you here at
The Mary Theotokos Retreat Center
in Newark VT.
Deus Tecum till then.