Tautringer – February 2007 Our first Christmas in the new monastery was in so many ways like the rest of the year: a continuous stream of gifts and good wishes from the hands of our neighbors and friends all over the world. Though we did not have snow (Norway had its rainiest autumn since 1958), this outpouring of goodness from God and so many people was like a constantly burning candle in the midst of the Norwegian winter. We were given no less than six Christmas trees, three inside and three outside. We placed the tallest in the cloister next to the church, and our chaplain Fr Anthony rigged it to reach straight up to the ceiling at 4,20 meters (14 feet). So many people congratulated us on our new home, but really it is we who congratulate all of you who have made this "little miracle" possible. The coming of Jesus in human flesh is something we experience every day through the many, many expressions of kindness we receive. That is why we wanted to have Open House every Saturday and Sunday in September. The new Tautra Mariakloster is our home, but in a sense it belongs to everyone in Norway, and to every person anywhere who contributed and prayed that it would come into being. We actually began opening the monastery for tours in August, by having a day for the support group and islanders, those who worked on the building, and the nearest parishes. We also invited the elderly from Frosta, and the developmentally challenged. There were perhaps only 300 the first Saturday in September, but as word spread about this once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the inside of the cloister, the crowds increased. Each time the church was jam-packed before the liturgy of None, in anticipation of the doors being opened. Sunday the 17th our parking helpers counted 400 cars parked on our neighbor’s field. We had printed self-guided tour brochures which explained the functions of the different rooms in the monastery. Visits started in church, and led to the chapter room, novitiate, refectory, scriptorium, cells, gardens and soap factory. By the time we invited the Frosta town council, all 7000 brochures had been given away! Holding Open House was a challenge for us who normally live a much more hidden life, but we were richly rewarded by meeting so many wonderful people. The next big event on the calendar is the dedication of our church which will be Saturday, May 12. We have received word that Queen Sonja is indeed coming! Our church will seat 150 at the most, so we must regretfully announce that having a place in the church will be by invitation only. It has been suggested that we rent a large video screen so that others outside can follow the ceremony, but we don’t see how we can afford this as the cost is over 100,000 kroner ($16,000). Perhaps we can have just loudspeakers.
Mother Gail will come to live with us for about four months, and of course will be present at the dedication. She is taking a sabbatical year after retiring as abbess of Mississippi Abbey. The new abbess, Mother Nettie, is one of our foundresses, so she will also be returning to Tautra for the dedication. None of this would have been possible without the determined and energetic leadership of our Mother Rosemary. For her feast day (October 7, Our Lady of the Rosary) we gave her a rose bush which will be planted in our garth come spring. There is no rose named Rosemary, but there is one called Mary Rose, and its description is surprisingly apt. MARY ROSE is a variety with many remarkable qualities. Although not a particularly glamorous rose, it has virtues that make it a good all-round shrub. It is very continuous in bloom, starting early and finishing late, with little rest in between. Its growth is near to ideal—bushy, twiggy and vigorous without being unruly—and it has a remarkable resistance to disease. The blooms are a strong rose-pink in color and have a simple charm such as we associate with Old Roses. Though not especially shapely, being fairly loose-petalled in formation, the flowers are nicely poised on the branch. The overall effect of the bush in the border is most attractive. Our soap and cream department has exciting news: we are starting to produce soaps and creams with ostrich oil. The benefits of ostrich oil date back over 2,000 years when Roman zoologist Pliny the Elder wrote about the healing properties in ostrich oil. This is truly "liquid sunshine" in a bottle because of the high concentrate of the healing Omega Fatty Acids. If you have any sort of skin condition such as cracked heels, burns, dry skin, acne, eczema, etc., you may have just found your cure. Also great as a face moisturizer or aftershave lotion. Ostrich oil has been discovered to be an oil that is identical to human oil except it is much superior because of its high percentage of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). Ostriches convert the vegetable oil that is in seeds they eat to an animal oil that is extremely high in the EFA's. They capture the living omega oils out of the seeds they eat and store this living oil in their bodies. These omega oils cause the ostrich to have the most powerful immune system of any land animal. Ostrich oil has a high content of the omega fatty acids (76%). It also contains Vitamin E. There is a man who lives on a century-old farm near Trondheim who raises ostriches. He sometimes has as many as 100 on the property. The oil is pure white, a beautiful oil. Besides the oil, ostriches are valued for their meat, their leather and their feathers. If you live in the U.S., you can order our soaps and creams from Monastery Greetings, www.monasterygreetings.com. We surely miss Sr Paul-Marie, who returned to her own monastery of Soleilmont in Belgium at the end of October. We gained, however, Fr Joel, from the Abbey of Cîteaux in France (the
motherhouse of all Cistercians), who has also been a big help while "resting" for six months on Tautra. He is in charge of the cheese factory at Cîteaux, but adapted well to our soap factory. On January 5, Sr Hanne-Maria was driving Fr Joel to the airport at 4:30 a.m. The Toyota hit a patch of ice in Frosta, skidded, rolled down the bank and did a 360 degree turnover, landing right side up, near the farm of a friend who happens to be a taxi driver. The passenger doors were bashed in, and the windshield totally fractured, but it didn’t break, though it came halfway out of the frame. Incredibly, they both walked away from the accident without a scratch. Our friend the taxi driver drove them to the airport and Fr Joel just made his flight back to France. Thus we began the new year as we had ended the old: with abundant thanksgiving to the Providence that watches over us and overwhelms us with tender care. We hope we can be vessels that continue to pour out that lifegiving love on our needy world.
With love from your sisters on Tautra