I wonder if I might have dissuaded some people from coming to church this morning after frightening them about the wild animals around us for, indeed, there were fewer people present than usual. Still, I must praise the singers at the kliros, for their singing was the best in a long time. Father Alexey phoned early to say that he was very ill and could not come, while Deacon Markel almost lost his voice yesterday, so Vladika Lazar and Deacon Markel, whose voice improved overnight, served the Liturgy. I know that it must have been difficult, but Vladika was able to stand for the entire service and used only one cane. That really is progress. After the Agape meal and the Meleti, about fifteen of us walked to the gatehouse chapel where we served a moleben of thanksgiving which I found to be overwhelming. It was extremely intimate, with half the people standing outside the two doors. I had forgotten to bring along a blessing cross so I used my panagia instead to bless everyone at the conclusion of the service. God willing, in November we will serve another moleben in the Theotokos Chapel on the west side of the main building where we used to serve our annual feast days outside, as it was too hot indoors. Father Shio served a Georgian Liturgy in the old church, so we can now say that we have two churches, the new one and the older one, in addition to two outdoor chapels.
[Photos below: autumn colours of the monastery and the private road to the monastery]