Thought from my trip to Portland Maine. I just got back. Well actually I got back on Thursday but I did a marriage at one of my former parishes.
When I went on the trip I wanted to go with no plans and see what happens and who I will meet. Two days before I was go to go, a face book friend had points for a hotel near Portland for 3 nights. A nice couple on the plane drove me to the hotel. He was a doctor and he knew my cousin who was head of Maine medical society. They worked on a case together.
Got to the hotel and tried to figure out the bus service. Made my way to the Maine Mall to catch the number 5 to downtown Portland. Took two boat tours first day. First was a harbor tour the second a whale watching tour. That was cool.
I had in my wallet the name of a retreat center in Maine. So I figured I need to cover my bases for the last 3 nights. Went to the local hotels and asked, “How much is a night” and was told, “well we start at 299 a night.” Well I could not find the piece of paper with the address on it. So I figured I would go to Cathedral and see I could figure it out. Meet Father Ed. He was 3 weeks ordained and was there 4 weeks ago for a retreat. He not only had the address but also drove me there.
Retreat house was cool. Castle like. But a face book friend sent me a message and said it looked like the hotel in the movie, ‘The Shining’After that I could not sleep. Especially one night when the fog was so thick. It was clear where Steven King got his idea for the book, ‘The Fog.’ In a real way the Fog was cool. Felt like you were waiting for the whaling boats 100 year ago.
One of the coolest things about Maine is the rocky coast. There is nothing like it in the coast in Virginia.I loved how the huge waves would moves these huge rocks. The sound was unlike anything I have ever heard before. The stones look like eggs. To me it looked like a vision of evolution. Also in one place the water made what look like an altar on the beach. It was not hard to imagine how the ancients would have seen some sort of sacred place for Poseidon. The order of sisters who run the retreat house very good, nice and holy. There founder was declared blessed by John Paul II. Her name is Blessed Marie Rivier. She twice broke her hips and was unable to walk and she prayed to Mary both time and was healed.
There was a group of 45 sisters from another order coming to the retreat house. And to say they were liberal would be a understatement. It was clear that I had 3 strikes against me. First I was male, second I was a priest and third I was….many adjectives are coming to mind. First night I asked if I could join them in prayer, “This is a prayer group for women voices. Men don’t understand. A man would ruin everything.” Another sister said, ” We have inclusive liturgy.” It was clear most did not go to daily mass. I had a mass at eight in the morning. All the sister who ran the retreat house were there, but only a handful of the other sister from another order went to mass…. Just a question to all you who are reading this, “What do you think inclusive liturgy meant to them?”
They certainly liked and cared for one another. And they like to laugh. They also had a great variety of ministries. I knew that I was not going to win anyone over to a more traditional way of thinking. But at least I tried to talk to them. If I could just give a positive impression that we priests love the poor, church, and have a genuine care for all people and God’s Creation. I tried to be like saint Francis and just sit and listen. And yes there are many things that they could help me to learn and there were things that I could teach them. One sister surprised everyone by coming to mass. She was known for never coming to mass. She went to the Episcopal Church many year ago. We had some good conversation and I think they bore fruit.
I would not have had these encounter if I didn’t go to Maine with no plans….