My travels aren't always filled with joy. When a good friend and colleague recently and suddenly passed away, I needed time to grieve and reflect in a natural setting, which, for me, is the most therapeutic. Luckily, I found the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford Pool along Maine's south coast.
The behemoth castle-resembling building dates from the 1890s when it was a major hotel resort that later fell on tough times, transforming first into a girls boarding school in 1948, and much later, in the 1970s, into an adult learning center, a nursing school and finally into this spiritual center run by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. But men and women of all faiths are welcome at this peaceful oasis.
I spent my time taking long, contemplative beach walks, jogging a short loop to East Point and back, bird watching, meditating while gazing at one of two ponds, and mindfully eating simple but flavorful meals, often outside at one of several picnic tables set beside shade trees. (When there is a silent retreat going on at this spiritual center, then no talking is allowed at designated meal times, which is why I chose to eat outside.) There are no embellishments here, but none are needed. My room was spare but comfy with bathrooms down the hall. But, then, I spent little time in my room because I enjoyed the comfort of nature.
And, for those who do prefer to reflect in a more formal way, you can attend morning or evening prayers in the chapel as well as mass and also the afternoon rosary.