Ever since I made my first spiritual retreat almost 40 years ago, I’ve enjoyed spending time each year on guided, directed or private retreats.
I’ve often wondered why I need to go anywhere, since I can do just about anything I do on retreat, praying, reflecting, writing, walking and enjoying the scenery, right here in Rockport.
But when I made a private retreat several years ago at Bethany Spirituality Center near Bear Mountain, N.Y., I discovered that a retreat was not a time for “doing;” it was a time for just “being” who I was and where I was.
At home, I was busy with things I had to “do” like shop, cook and clean, as well as stuff I spend too much time on, like TV and e-mails. At Bethany, everything I needed was provided. All I had to do was show up – in the dining room, the chapel, walking the grounds, even rowing a boat on their lake.
Since then, I’ve made other private retreats and each time, experienced something that recharged and renewed me, including the companionship of kindred spirits.
A few months ago, a Rockport friend told me about the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford Pool, Maine, and after seeing an aerial photo online, I made a reservation for a private retreat there from June 29 to July 6.
My room was on the fourth floor with an ocean view, open to cool breezes and the sounds of the sea. Daily Mass as well as morning and evening prayer were optional activities provided by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mercy, but most of the time, I was outdoors exploring the grounds and the neighborhood.
Herons, egrets and water lilies could be found in ponds on both sides of the house, several birdfeeders attracted a variety of birds and deer were often seen on the grounds. It was a photographer’s paradise and I took hundreds of shots, walking along the beach at dawn or later in the day through a Nature Sanctuary with a view of the Wood Island Lighthouse across the bay.