Pleasant surprises are a delight, aren’t they? Refreshing, often inspiring, joy-making moments of goodness in our lives, like finding money in your pocket or a love note in your lunchbox. They stay with us, have the ability to sustain us or make our day, especially when we know that it could find us again, or that we can find it.
That’s how we feel about two special locations in Rockport, Maine, places we have visited during our month-long visit, beginning with the very first evening we arrived. Driving up and over and around many lakes in Maine from Conway, New Hampshire, we were anticipating the ocean; we could hardly wait to see it, smell it, taste it. We landed at our campground and were given a caricature map of the area. We did the minimum to set up camp, and then we were off with our cartoonish road guide to discover Rockport.
We liked the look of one of the little peninsulas located just on the other side of the harbor. Following the not-to-scale roads on our map, we drove through a lovely neighborhood, which led to a dirt road. Next to the entrance of the road there was a sign that read “Scenic Byway,” which one could easily miss if one was trying to navigate a new destination via embellished, illustrated topography. Nevertheless, we persevered, finding a few vehicles parked unobtrusively along the way. We stopped and parked, too, and then followed the trail though the pines and apple trees down to the water. There on the rock was a jogger perched atop it practicing yoga after his run. We took in the setting sun and sailboats, and then moved down the road a bit to find more people on top of rocks, this time swimmers and picnickers having evening cocktails. Clearly, these places were popular, but without much fanfare. License plates read from Maine and out-of-state; everyone there seemed very familiar with these spots. We became familiar with them as well.
A week or two later, I took a jog along the Scenic Byway and found a chapel — also noted on the caricature map — nestled all alone in the forest. A quiet, meditative place, the Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel is a gem of a discovery for those who seek solitude and peace. Built on the grounds of an old hotel, the chapel is an enchanting walk among old gardens, stones, trees and the wind. I stayed for a while, meditating on benches made from halved trees, and visited the open air structure with a view of the ocean.
A plaque on the chapel wall reads, “This chapel is built to the memory of all young people who have passed through this world and gained God by so doing. It stands for freedom, thought, prayer, and action. It stands for holiness within the body, and for God in the heart each waking hour. May the Lord bless all young people who come here for spiritual and mental refreshment. – Helene Bok.”
Blessings for all. Strong, spiritual vibrations resonate in this space if you care to engage with them.
And so, part of our Rockport, Maine, journey has included recurring visits to these places of solitude and natural activity. Not many folks talk about them here, but everyone seems to know about them. They are frequented. Of course. It is understood. Readers, lovers, runners, swimmers, kayakers, cocktailers, artists, dogs, cyclists, seekers, locals, leaf-peepers. We all have come to see and hear and be. They are spaces that encouraged us to remain in Maine for so long, subtly whispering, “Listen. Be.”