February 2004 Dear Friends of Tautra Mariakloster, Some of us characterized the year 2003 with the word "building." Of course, we mean all the meetings with the architect and the discussions about the building process. A year ago, when we were all discouraged because we had lost our architect and had to start over, we dreaded the delay. But that year of more waiting and work now means that we can be assured of building the whole monastery. God knew what was best. By "building" we also mean the real building, which is the community. This year has brought us together and allowed us to get to know one another in deeper ways. We have a real unity, which is remarkable because we were formed in 5 different monasteries. M. Rosemary said she has the sense that we are part of something much bigger than we are, something magnificent if we can just get out of the way and let God do it. So if we have any New Year’s resolution, it’s to take the year as it comes, without any expectations. We want to be happy with what we have, and not compare reality to what we have planned. St. Francis de Sales said, "Ask for nothing; refuse nothing." Take life as it comes, as it is, because all comes from God. Veien blir til mens vi går den. The road comes into being as we walk it. Not until you put your foot down are you where you’re supposed to be. The perspective drawing of the new monastery with the mountains and fjord in the background has been posted on our homepage, www.tautra.no. Click on How to Participate in the Building Process. We are hoping to have the site leveled and prepared around Easter, with the actual building starting in June. Messages from Water We’ve had several visitors give us the message that the important thing in life is relationships. S. Gilchrist has been incorporating milk made from grain into our soaps. The company which produces the milk is very concerned about the quality of the water used in that process. They showed us a book recently published by Japanese scientists with the title Messages from Water. Researchers had taken photos of pure, natural water as it crystallized. The pictures looked like beautiful snowflakes: intricate, 6-pointed patterns of lace. But when they took pictures of chlorinated water in a big city, the photo was of a bald ball: ugly and misshapen. Next they played music to water, and the crystals looked unbelievably like what you would expect from Bach’s Air on a G String vs. heavy metal. Then the researchers taped words to jars
of water. When words like "Thank you" or "love" were used, the pictures were beautiful snowflakes. But when hurtful words like "You fool" were used, the crystals looked crippled and misformed. The head scientist even tried an experiment where he placed his water sample on his desk and then sent an e-mail around the country, asking others to send kind thoughts and good energy to his water sample at 2:30 on a certain day. The water was actually able to form better crystals after receiving these "prayers." Our bodies are 70% water. This research shows that the way we treat one another has a real, physical effect. Our words, tone of voice, even our thoughts cause a reaction in the water molecules of another. If sending prayers in the direction of something without consciousness enables it to become more beautiful, imagine how we can help one another when our relationships are conscious. What starts in a little community can affect the whole church, and indeed the whole world. Nuns in Norway On the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, Bishop Georg Müller celebrates all the religious in his diocese. (There are only 22 of us, of which only 2 are Norwegian.) This year we had the joy of hosting S. Anne-Lise Strøm, a Dominican from Lunden kloster in Oslo, who gave the input for the day. She was the first nun that both S. Ina and S. Hanne-Maria ever met. She must have made a good impression if she helped to inspire two vocations to Tautra. S. Anne-Lise reminded us that it was against the law for Roman Catholics to live in Norway for 300 years after the reformation. S. Anne-Lise belongs to the first generation of nuns in modern times and has seen so many changes in the church in Norway in the past 45 years. She said that when she came back to Norway (from France where she had been trained) in 1957, there were about 3000 Catholics, of which 500 were nuns. Thus 1/6 of the Catholic population were religious, and Catholic nuns had a tremendous influence on the growing welfare state. The Princess and the Abbot We have a new princess and a new abbot. On January 21, Crown Princess Mette-Marit gave birth to Ingrid Alexandra, who is second in line to the throne. No, we have not thought of naming a new soap after her! On January 10, Dom Kevin Daly was blessed and installed as the new abbot of Roscrea. He will be our father immediate when Tautra Mariakloster becomes an independent priory. He is also the abbot of our chaplain Fr Anthony, who traveled back to Roscrea with S. Marjoe to attend the abbatial blessing. M. Rosemary (as superior) and S. Sheryl (as delegate and secretary) will be representing Tautra at the Region of the Isles meeting March 2-6 at Nunraw Abbey in Scotland.
The Uncommon Common Eider Berit Lein of the Environment Department and Svein-Håkon Lorentsen, an ecologist whom we met in connection with the bridge opening, agreed to give us a lecture on the common eider. In 1975, Tautra had 1600 breeding pairs of ducks in several large colonies on the island. In 1976 the causeway to the mainland was built, cutting off the flow of water around the island. This drastically altered the aquatic food available for the eiders, and in addition allowed predators to walk over the causeway to the island. The predation of females had left the colony with a 70 to 80% surplus of males. In 2001, only 80 pairs remained. Lorentsen is part of a team that is trying to restore the eider population on Tautra. (We understand that the medieval monks collected eider down as one of their industries. On the current market, 1 kilo of down is worth 10,000 norwegian crowns, or about $1470.) If the bridge had not been built, the common eider would be extinct on Tautra by 2015. Now that the bridge has restored the original water currents, the population will double by 2020 if 20% of the chicks survive. It will double by 2014 with an 85% adult survival rate. Eiders live about 20 years, and females begin breeding when they are 3 years old. They lay 4 to 6 eggs and stay on the nest for 4 weeks until they hatch. We were delighted to hear that females who have lost their chicks, or who have fewer than their neighbour, will band together with several other females who will bring up the whole brood together—another image of community life! The bridge was just opened last year so it is too early to evaluate progress, but there are hopeful signs that the common eider will once again be common. Feeling Off-center? One morning early in the new year, S. Paul-Marie lit the candelabra on the chapter room table and carefully centered it on a decorative glass plate. After a few minutes, one of the candles began to lean precariously, and because the candelabra was wobbling on some glass bumps on the plate, threatened to drip hot wax on the table. S. Gilchrist reached out and moved the candelabra to the side of the plate, where the candle righted itself and continued to burn brightly. S. Paul-Marie commented that perhaps we will be more stable this year if we are all a bit off-center! We are learning about Monica Kristensen, the first woman to follow Amundsen’s route by dogsled to the south pole. She quotes a Greenlandic proverb, which we offer as an encouragement as we go forward toward God in 2004: When you have walked so long that you cannot possibly go one step further, then have you gone exactly halfway of what you can do.
As we enjoy lighter days and journey toward spring, we share with you a poem by one of our neighbors:
A declaration of love to my island Silent lies the island Under a blanket of lily-white snow. Fields and beaches hibernate now. Blåveis and Marianøkleblom Sleep their sleep on the kloster-island’s ground. No gull-cries or quail-song No—they sojourn in other lands. The Bay and the Sound so blue In the pale winter sun. Barefoot dance in summer grass And delight in the water are over now. But we know— There comes a spring. The kloster-island sleeps in its mouselings-nest With forest-clad mountains in the north And fertile earth in the south. One spring, it will once again Open itself like a fine pearl.
With love from your Sisters on Tautra