Through February and March, a group of volunteers emptied the Abbey to allow renovation work to begin. They cleaned the farmhouse, to make it habitable simple but warm. Henriette Hollaar, a resident oblate from Mediatio House in London, was part of this team of volunteers:
Our project with three volunteers was to complete emptying the Abbey and prepare the farmhouse for accommodation during the next year or so of work. The attic and the basement of the Abbey had still lots of secrets to share. We found 3000 (empty but beautiful) handmade bottles which lay dormant since the wine production at Bonnevaux had stopped decades ago. Vintage clothes and furniture turned up as well.
Meanwhile, winter was playing its game and the skin of my hands and face felt the dry cold. But the sky was clear and after sunset, the night sky free from light pollution - as the land has been free from pesticides - showed us the wonder of the constellations. The temperature rose steadily and the smell of Spring energised us.
We agreed on our communal meditation times. So we were joined regularly by meditators from Poitiers and around, which were very supportive and joyful. We starting using the bell on the roof of the farm to call us to these times. Maybe the first time in centuries the bell has called Bonnevaux residents to prayer! We moved out of the Abbey on the 9th of March, a bit sad to leave behind the wood fire stove, which had been a lot of work to keep going but had provided us with warmth and a special atmosphere.