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May 2021

Dear [subscriber:firstname | default:Friends]—

Whether your celebration of Easter happened a month ago or this weekend, the return of spring makes it seem only natural to say, "Christ has risen!" And, in that note of joy, I'm happy to share that the studio's work goes on, as God continues to provide what we need in the gifts we receive from land and through the encouragement and support of our patrons.

Below you can read a brief update about the conclusion of the Sacred Grove project, see some great photos that we've been sent of where our mounted print icons are ending up, and get a sense of how the next phase of the studio's revitalization is taking shape.

All the best,
—Symeon

The Conestoga Iconographic Studio
"Worshipping with the Saints; Here and Now."

THE LENTEN SACRED GROVE WINDS UP

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The Sacred Grove at Huron College. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kate Helsen.
With the ending of the Lenten season, events conspired to see the Sacred Grove project at Huron College wrap up. As the icons from the grove were returned to the campus chapel, Fr. Gary, the chaplain of Huron College, was kind enough to send a selection of the comments he'd received from people who had experienced the grove firsthand while it stood in place.

I enjoyed reading these reflections on beauty and prayer even more than I usually would. Here in Ontario, we are currently in a state of extreme lockdown and are daily abraded with words of fear. I found something of a balm in these words. Here are a few of their reflections, which I hope inspire you as they did me:

"I cannot describe the almost palpable feeling of peace and hope that entered my heart. I was in awe. I am extremely confident these feelings will make any believer more dedicated and devoted toward the Holy Spirit. And despite all the other incredible places I’ve been visiting in the past, such as Iran, Dubai and Qatar, the Sacred Grove stands out as the most impactful and memorable of all."

"I have sat here for the last half hour, soaking in the icons, thinking through the intentionality with which they were placed, listening to the birds, and feeling the sun strengthen on my face. Having a place to rest and contemplate is so very important."

"This was our first visit to the Sacred Grove. We both found it to be a nice, safe and peaceful area, perfect for reflection. We like that the Sacred Grove is surrounded by trees and nature and adjacent to a quiet meadow. The icon-painter did a wonderful job with the birdhouse icon shrines."

"We paid a visit to the Sacred Grove to visit with King David, Mary Magdalene, Antony the Great, Katherine, and Benedict of Nursia and several others of their saintly brothers and sisters. The day was crisp, bright sunshine overhead, the sights and sounds of springtime all around us. We stayed just over half an hour and, after a time of deep quiet, offered a prayer of thanksgiving for these holy ones and for a holy space of tranquillity and beauty. Two Canada geese, a mating pair, signalled their raucous disapproval of our presence, Red-bellied Woodpeckers trilled to each other from the back of Brescia, and as we prepared to leave Huron’s precincts a magnificent mature Bald Eagle swept across the sky in ever-widening circles, climbing eastward over Weldon Library and soaring towards the river. 'O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord,” we’ve been praying at the morning office these Lenten days, “Praise him and magnify Him forever!' Amen."
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I continue to be grateful for the invitation to be part of such a wonderful project during this difficult time. And, I hope that others will be inspired by the example of the Huron College Chapel to worship in the beauty of holiness in all places.

To find out more about the Huron College Chapel, I invite you to visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HuronUChapel

MOUNTED PRINT ICONS

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The sale of the studio's mounted print icons continues to be popular. Along with sending forth icons far and wide, we also receive the occasional photo sent of the new places our works are being housed. It is a joy for us to receive these, and it demonstrates well our mission to "worship with the saints, here and now."
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Icon of Noah the Just overlooking the renovations happening in Sewickley, PA, USA.
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Both the painted icon of St. Benedict and a mounted print icon of The Washing in a study in Cambridge, ON, Canada.
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Icons of Sts. Anthony and Paul amid a collection of icons in a family's shrine in Granville, NS, Canada.
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The icons of Christ the Almighty and Mary the Guide on a makeshift altar in a cabin outside Regina, SK, Canada.
To see all the mounted print icons available from the studio, please click here.

STUDIO RENOVATIONS CONTINUE

Studio Barn Board Repairs
Claire perched to help hang the next length of barn board.
With spring having arrived here in Ontario, work has begun again to fix up the studio's building, an old stable in Conestoga, with the support of the Gofundme page set up by one of the studio's supporters.

Next on the list of things to do is replacing the dilapidated barnboard on the building's south wall. Because of the slope of the land and the height of the stable, replacing it means climbing to somewhat precarious heights (especially on the old extension ladder I rescued from a dumpster twenty years ago!) But, the work goes well, and it's beautiful to see new life breathed into the building.

Even with our Covid restrictions, this work has begun and will end with our community. From the generosity of those financially supporting the work to the hard work of our children.

Thank you to everyone who is helping restore this space for the studio's work.
Studio Barn Board Repairs
Studio Barn Board Repairs
Studio Barn Board Repairs
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