October 2003 Dear Friends of Tautra Mariakloster, The Queen has left Tautra, but we have already invited her back and are hopeful that she will be able to be present for the dedication of our new monastery sometime in 2005. We have worked very hard with our architect, Jan Olav Jensen, who has won international renown for his designs of a leprosarium in India and Mortensrud Church in Oslo. The planning stage is finished, and our project leader Atle Romstad is busy hiring engineers. We hope to begin digging the foundations in January 2004. The novitiate is planned as the last wing to be built, but we need even that now as we have a young Norwegian woman who would like to join us as a postulant next summer. We have just received wonderful news from Bonifatiuswerk in Germany: They have pledged a tremendous gift which puts us over the three-quarters mark toward our total budget. We are so grateful for this support in answer to our daily prayer at Vespers, that God will provide the necessary means to build the new monastery to His glory. Now we will be able to pour the foundations for the whole complex. We still need a fourth of the budget to be able to finish the building, however, and we commend to your prayers this intention. We look forward to moving in, according to the project timetable, by Easter 2005. Eleven gardens A monastery is a complex project which necessitates incorporating all phases of Cistercian life: combining a public church with private cells, refectory, scriptorium, kitchen, offices and self-supporting industry. Jensen has cut the square meters down from the original design of 2400 to 1900, by designing multi-function spaces. For example, he has eliminated the library by proposing that the building unit of the walls be bookshelves. The cloister will be lined with books, which we will walk among as among friends. The whole monastery is on one floor, except for the dormitory wing which is two stories. This allows the building to sit low on the land, and it fits well on Tautra. In order to bring light into this complex, Jensen has broken with the tradition of one large garden in the center of the cloister by designing no less than eleven gardens. These include the large garden in front of the monastery which will shield us from the noise and view of the road, the cemetery in back, and an herb garden near the kitchen. Each garden will have its own character, such as a zen rock garden and a water garden. Perhaps the greatest challenge to Jensen was when we requested that every room have a view of the fjord. Our refectory is planned as one long table so we can watch the ever-changing
panorama as we eat. The cells on the second floor will have a view of the fjord both to the north and to the south. Jensen has divided the functions of the scriptorium so that we will have a large meeting room, plus private carrels in the cloister overlooking the fjord. We look forward to choosing which garden and which magnificent view to enjoy while doing our spiritual reading. The church will be a tourist attraction in itself. It has the same width as the ruins on Tautra (9.5 meters) and about 2/3 the length. It will seat 120. Jensen has designed different ceiling heights to create spaces which allow visitors to choose how much they want to participate. We want it to be inviting and yet respect those who are shy. Jensen has exciting ideas for the use of stones we have collected from the shores of the fjord. "We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us," said Winston Churchill. We have reflected among ourselves that although we are anxious for the new monastery to be completed, the real building is our little community on Tautra. All the delays are allowing us time to form a true Christian church out of living stones. We are each very different and beautiful in our own way—like the stones on our beach. The eight of us made our novitiates in five different monasteries. Coming together on the fjord jostles us and makes us rub our rough edges against one another, until we become smooth and polished like the stones we hope to use in our church. Nordlys A colleague of S. Sheryl’s father’s, Asgeir Brekke of the University of Tromsø, is one of the world’s foremost experts on auroras. He happened to be driving with his wife Mary from Oslo to Tromsø, and was able to stop by Tautra to give us a lecture on our favorite after-Vespers activity: watching the northern lights. Northern lights originate from our sun. During large explosions and flares, huge quantities of solar particles are thrown out of the sun and into deep space. These plasma clouds travel through space with speeds varying from 300 to 1000 kilometers per second. But even with such speeds (over a million kilometer per hour), it takes these plasma clouds two to three days to reach our planet. When they are closing in on Earth, they are captured by Earth's magnetic field (the magnetosphere) and guided towards Earth's two magnetic poles; the geomagnetic south pole and the geomagnetic north pole. On their way down towards the geomagnetic poles, the solar particles are stopped by Earth's atmosphere, which acts as an effective shield against these deadly particles.When the solar particles are stopped by the atmosphere, they collide with the atmospheric gases present, and the collision energy between the solar particle and the
gas molecule is emitted as a photon - a light particle. And when you have many such collisions, you have an aurora - lights that may seem to move across the sky. In order for an observer to actually see the aurora with the naked eye, about a 100 million photons are required. Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is another word for the gigantic explosions and flares that occurs on our sun. Northern lights is a result of our atmosphere shielding against solar particles which would otherwise make our planet uninhabitable. Plasma is the fourth state of matter. Depending on temperature (energy) any matter can exist as:- Solid (ie ice).- Liquid (ie water).- Gas (ie water vapour).- Plasma (temperature is so great that the molecules are ripped apart and electrically charged). See some beautiful photos on www.northern-lights.no It is the conversion of two hydrogen atoms into a helium atom which produces light. This leads one to think that perhaps it is the constant conversion (turning toward God) of Christians which is to make them the light of the world. KATTolikk Our two cats, Miriam and Telefon, whom we got as kittens from the local Lutheran pastor, became mothers this summer. Each had four adorable, black-and-white kittens, much to the delight of the children (and adults) on the island. We gave away three of each litter, but two remain: Petra (Miriam’s), so named because we found the litter on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, and Lille Mia (Telefon’s). They are, of course, KATTolikks. Tautra urtesaape Our support group once again outdid themselves and broke last year’s record for soap sales at the historical market in Trondheim during the St Olav’s festival. In these nine days, they brought in nearly 200,000 kroner (almost $30,000) which is a third of our income for the year. We are very grateful for this generous help which brings us closer to becoming self-supporting. In fact, we are happy to be in a position to be able to help others. S. Carmen and S. Paula from our monastery in Armenteira, Spain stayed with us for two weeks to learn how to make soap and lipbalm. Their motherhouse Alloz had 78 sisters and was able to found La Palma 26 years ago. That left 65 sisters at Alloz, so Armenteira was founded in 1988. Armenteira now has 8 nuns, just like us, and we immediately felt a kinship with them. The language situation was a bit confusing as we had no common tongue. S. GilChrist would explain the process in French to S. Carmen, who would then translate into Spanish for S. Paula, who also knows a little English.
They valiantly sang Norwegian with us in choir. Even S. Paul-Marie, whose mother tongue is French, got confused with Norwegian, English and Spanish in the air, and began forgetting her French! The Spanish sisters said the fjords reminded them very much of their own landscape in Galicia. They say that when God created the world, he got tired and rested his hand on the still-soft earth. The imprint of his fingers left fjord-like inlets in the land. Armenteira lies between the second and third fingers of God’s palmprint. Then God shook the soft mud off his hand, and these fell onto the new creation and became the many islands in Galicia. Stone Zone Professor Allan Krill, a geologist at NTNU in Trondheim, invited us to come along when he took his first-year students on a geology walk/talk around Tautra. The island is very interesting because some of the rocks on the shore come from very far away. These stones, so different from each other and yet gathered here on Tautra, we see as an image of our community, and hope to use in the building of our monastery. We learned that Greenland and Norway collided about 400 million years ago. The collision produced a jumble of four different kinds of rock that we were able to see: micashist which is metamorphic clay; greenstone conglomerate which is metamorphic sandstone with smaller stones mixed in it; metabasalt-pillow lava which is metamorphic basalt from the ocean floor; and marble which is metamorphic limestone. The geologist looks at the lay of the rock and tries to ascertain which layer came first. We saw fossils of snail shells in the marble, and an algae fossil. Algae, one step up from bacteria, are the heroes of the evolutionary process. They could live without free oxygen, and locked up the excess of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into limestone rock, liberating oxygen into the atmosphere. After hundreds of millions of years, there was enough oxygen for higher forms of life to breathe. We’re well connected! Through a very generous gift of Al McDonald, we now have a new computer network, our own domain name and several new e-mail addresses. Please note these changes: firstname.lastname@example.org (community) email@example.com (superior)
firstname.lastname@example.org (hospitality) email@example.com (herbal soap industry) firstname.lastname@example.org (vocations) S. GilChrist has worked very hard to get our website up and running on the net. We plan to keep it updated with the latest news as building progresses. Take a peek at www.tautra.no and enjoy reading about Tautra Mariakloster in four languages. Lovers of the place We were delighted to welcome Cistercian scholar Marsha Dutton on a side trip from her sabbatical in southern France. She gave us conferences on St. Aelred, who reminds us that Cistercians are lovers of the place. The monastery supports the schedule and ambience of the life, where everything tends toward God. For the first Cistercians, the physical buildings meant bringing order out of chaos, which is also a metaphor for the spiritual journey. The site of the monastery becomes precious to those who live there. We have certainly come to love Tautra, with all that our situation calls forth from us as we grow toward God, toward each other, and toward the whole world. Marsha told us that Aelred says the one who dwells in friendship dwells in God. We feel very blessed with so many friends among our neighbors, and indeed over all of Norway. The many instances of friendship that we experience are evidence of God coming to us through others. Besides being a scholar on Aelred of Rievaulx and Gilbert of Hoyland, Marsha teaches the history of Germanic languages. She was fascinated with Norwegian, certain that the closest thing to Old English is Old Norse. Kerryman Our chaplain Fr. Anthony hails from County Kerry. He tells the story of the Kerryman who died and went to heaven. St. Peter was at the gates, and checked out the man’s life on the heavenly computer. He was cleared for admittance, but then St. Peter noticed the man had something clenched in his fist. "What have you got there?" asked St. Peter. "Don’t you know you must enter heaven empty-handed?" The Kerryman said it was a clump of the home sod. Being a lover of the place and a good Kerryman, he wouldn’t enter heaven without taking along a bit of turf. Other saints came out to the gates to persuade him to empty his fist so he could come in to the glories of heaven, but the Kerryman was stubborn and refused. Finally it began to rain and the dirt turned to mud and started to run through his fingers. "Ach, well," he said, "I might
as well give it up. What good is a bit of dirt to me now?" So he gave up his sod in order to enter heaven empty-handed. And when he stepped through the pearly gates, he saw to his delight that heaven looked just like the rolling fields of County Kerry. So it is with us on Tautra, says Fr. Anthony. We give everything up to come to a different place, and we find that we get everything that is precious to us, back again. With love from your Sisters on Tautra