Many, many thanks to all of you who phoned to congratulate me on my nameday today.  I was touched by your sincere good wishes.  Our monastery has tried for decades to wean people off the practice of celebrating their birthdays and instead concentrating on their namedays, but I feel that it is a lost cause.  At least many have become more aware of the importance of their patron saint and the day on which the saint is commemorated.  I strongly urge all Orthodox Christians to discover this important spiritual element and to proceed to celebrate it.  Moments after the sun had set, our electricity failed and we struggled, using our flashlights.   This is the second time, as I recall, that it happened this week, and there will be more in the future.  While driving back from town this afternoon, we were met by a chicken running furiously toward us with a coyote in pursuit.  It ran directly under the Jeep so that the coyote veered off and ran down our monastery road, then around to the neighbour’s yard where it began chasing the chicken in the first place.  Andy later told us that this neighbour started out with one hundred chickens and has only two left.  This is because they are not guarded well and they are left on their own to protect themselves against the coyotes and raccoons.   [Icon below: Saint Varlaam of Khutinsk]

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