God is with us! We have embraced and carry that prayer in our hearts as we continue to renovate and organize our future monastery. Even though our “monastery” is a prayerful, joyful and peaceful place, each room has its particular distractions of work yet to be accomplished. We were in need of less distraction and a little more peace and spousal prayer. So Julie and I traveled to Ellwood City, Pennsylvania for a five day retreat at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration. What a blessing. Mother Christophora and the other mothers and sisters were very warm and welcoming and generously showered us with hospitality. We were uplifted by their beautiful voices of harmony and strengthened as we prayed with them in their holy chapel filled with icons from floor to ceiling.
We stayed at one of the houses on the grounds and enjoyed the gift of silence. At times we listened to CDs of various speakers, mostly of Father Thomas Hopko and Mother Christophora. We also had time to paint icons. I finished one and Julie started another. Even though some days were cold and rainy, we each made an effort to take walks on the grounds. We often visited Reverend Mother Alexandra’s grave (A.K.A. Ileana, Princess of Romania). I especially enjoyed spending prayerful time with her. Since she was the foundress of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration, I especially felt drawn to be with her and humbly asked for her guidance and intercession. I felt bolstered by her motherly presence.
At the end of the retreat, we were refreshed and ready to trek back to Burton, Ohio. We are grateful to the mothers and sisters of the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration and thank Christ our Bridegroom for the intimate encounters, energizing peace and all the blessings undeservedly received. God is (without a doubt) with us!