A special update on the North American Thebaid Project, especially coming off this recent “quiet” period during Great Lent and the Pascha/Easter season.
Actually, there has been a great deal going on in the background, most of which is sketched out below, and you’ll see why I didn’t feel it was worth posting about at the time, as the details seem rather dull on the surface. But when it is all pulled together now, it makes for a good narrative, and helps relate the causes of my absence, as well as my eagerness to resume travel and photography.
So, here are the updates, arranged topically:
- Temp Job & Auto Maintenance — The Thebaid Project has been quiet recently primarily due to an unexpected fundraising opportunity. Thanks to a referral from one of the project’s main advisors and supporters, I was able to take on a full-time administrative temp job for three months, in order to raise extra funds for the Thebaid project. This proved to be doubly providential, enabling me to take care of some major (and unexpected!) car maintenance (battery, alternator, belts), over and above normal service. A commitment from another supporter to replace two tires showing wear and dry-rot (we replaced the first pair of tires in September 2016) means that my vehicle should be quite roadworthy for the remainder of the project travel through mid-2018, God willing. And, I will still benefit from modest savings from the temp job gig. Had I pressed forward with travel instead of accepting the job offer, I might very well have had a breakdown on the road, with added expense due to hotel stays and possible towing beyond my AAA coverage. Thanks be to God!
- Travel & Photography to resume in July — I am currently firming up details on the major legs of the pilgrimage: the Northeast, Midwest, the Northern Plains, Pacific Northwest and Alberta Canada, and California. Alaska timing is uncertain at this point. I am planning to cover the Southeast and Southwest in Late Autumn and Winter, following the seasons. My intent is to have the photography completed by April or May 2018, and be in a position to send the book to the printer by June 2018.
- Cutting Overhead, Committed to Travel — My initial trips last Autumn and early this year convinced me that it does not make sense for me to keep my apartment during the active travel and photography phase of the project. Not only are rent and utilities a serious financial drain, but the logistics of working from a “home base” simply don’t make sense given the great distances of the remaining monasteries spread across the continent. There will likely be some discomfort and surprises along the way associated with this decision, but as on a true holy pilgrimage the challenges simply must be “suffered through”, and I trust the total commitment this approach requires will serve the project far better than a more leisurely pace punctuated by home comforts every so often.
- On schedule to deliver fine art prints to supporters this Summer — Although the finished book is not scheduled for publication until mid-2018 with distribution beginning that Autumn, the Thebaid Project promised to supporters contributing at the $100 dollar level and up, in addition to copies of the book, signed & matted fine-art prints. These archival prints set in acid-free and lignin-free museum mats were scheduled to be delivered to supporters beginning in “mid-2017.” I’m pleased to report that I have all the materials assembled, and will begin matting, signing and wrapping the fine art prints later this week or early next, with delivery to supporters beginning immediately thereafter. I’m very energized to reach this important juncture, providing the “first fruits” of the Thebaid Pilgrimage to our supporters. This will be the first physical reward to our Thebaid Association members, advisors, contributors, and of course, the monastics themselves. The majority of the first round of fine-art prints will be hand-delivered to supporters at the various parishes which have hosted me for presentations and fundraisers, beginning of course with my home parish of Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit in Cincinnati. In addition to parish deliveries, shipments of the signed/matted prints to supporters will begin in early July, so watch your mailboxes!
- Additional parish visits coming up — Parish presentations continue to be the most effective way to generate interest in the Thebaid Pilgrimage, plus it’s a joy to visit Orthodox churches along my route. Pre-sales of both the Hardbound Standard Edition and the Leather-Bound Deluxe Limited Edition help fund the travel and photography, while providing us with accurate numbers for the initial print run. And as from the start, all members of host parishes receive the Digital Rewards Package of two ebooks and high-res images of Mount Athos. I look forward to scheduling parish visits along every leg of the journey throughout the USA and Canada, and will be posting the itinerary on the Thebaid website and social media. Please contact me to schedule a presentation. No parish is too far away when you’re traveling literally to the four corners of the continent!
- Regular posting resumes this week at thebaid.org — Aside from a few posts on monastic saints and other topics, during my temp job I didn’t have much bandwidth available for the blog here at Thebaid Pilgrimage HQ. I look forward to sharing much with you in the coming days, weeks and months…
So, there’s the update. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have waited patiently for my return, with special appreciation to those who reached out with messages and emails of encouragement during this recent quiet time. Special thanks and “Welcome aboard!” to our new supporters and Fellow Pilgrims who joined us during this period.
And now, the roads beckon! How refreshing and energizing to at long last turn my gaze again to our familiar and beautiful spiritual landscape of Orthodox Christian Monasteries of North America, to feel anew and unreservedly heed that mysterious call to the road, to convey glimpses of this sacred, transfigured way of life through fine photographic images. This is my ‘Way’ for the next year or so, and perhaps longer…
May it be blessed! Through your prayers & support!