“Almost heaven” is the only description I can give to Maine. My apologies to John Denver and West Virginia, but Maine wins it – hands down.
Hating cold weather, I have always drawn a latitudinal line across any potential vacation spot. If it is above the Mason-Dixon line, I wisely turn up my thermostat and stay home. When I did my geographical research on Maine, I quickly ran into some large state called Canada to the west. My motivation to visit plummeted with the imagined temperature.
Undeterred, Betsy got me on a plane headed 1,600 miles north. Despite the fact that I could see Nova Scotia from our back porch, the weather was delightful (60-70’s), the state was drop-dead gorgeous, and I am pretty sure God is calling me to summer there for the rest of my life (for health reasons, of course).
I used to be the grounds superintendent for the seminary I attended. This, plus growing up on my grandfather’s farm, got my hands in the dirt. Betsy loves gardening as well, so we were both drawn to the glory of the immaculate flowers blooming all around us after a late spring (late Spring in Maine = July, I have confirmed).
Like many, I had grown up hearing about the “rugged coast of Maine,” but you have to actually experience it to begin to comprehend its beauty. It’s spectacular and windswept, with lobsters, bald eagles and whales often seen. It is also deadly. Many a mariner has lost his life off this coast. With places named “Thunder Hole” along the way, you know you aren’t in Florida any longer.
One place that Florida has Maine beat, though, is in the beach department. Maine tries hard, but something about the effort makes me sad – very sad. Oh, and the ocean temperature in June is 55 degrees. Don’t even ask about January.
That’s why everyone is huddled up against the retaining wall, as far from the water as possible, in this photo. Plus, the wall, I imagine, radiates heat from the sun thus keeping the ocean from icing over and trapping foolish swimmers.
But as long as you don’t get wet, the beauty is magical. It’s like being transported to another land. The glory of it just hurts your eyes. Here is a shot from our backyard at sunset:
The next morning the view had changed a little. I wondered why a cruise ship was parked in our backyard until it hit me: I’m not looking at them; they’re looking at me and the majestic Tudor mansion I’m staying in. This old estate, built for a descendent of John Jacob Astor, now serves as a private home that is graciously open, in the spirit of Christ, to those needing to “relax, reflect, and renew.”
Below is what they were seeing, from the side and then from the air. Four floors. Fourteen bedrooms. 16,000 sq. ft. Built in 1904 and painstakingly restored to its former glory. We explored as much as we could, but we were still discovering new rooms when we left.
For you interior decorators out there, here is a glimpse of the inside of this home that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, my feet carried me up and down these stairs but, I promise you, never with my shoes on.
If all of this wasn’t enough, there were blueberry pancakes available every morning (made with fresh Maine blueberries and pure maple syrup) at a restaurant within a short walk of the house. Yes, they were soft on the inside and crispy around the edges, just as God intended.
Finally, just because God is such a show off, when we went to the rental counter to pick up the subcompact car we had reserved (that Betsy didn’t think I would be able to get in and out of), they explained that they were “all out” and would we mind terribly if they upgraded us? We prayed about it (ha!) and instantly became the envy of every teenager in Maine.
Well, there you have it. Maine, in all of its glory. What a captivating place of rugged beauty. What a gift. And what a wonderful world full of amazing people who make vacations like this possible. Thanks to those of you who own nothing and share everything. Betsy and I are the stunned recipients of your generosity and grace.
Yet, even all of this is just a foretaste of the glory we were made for in Christ and what is still yet to come.
“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns,
but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
We have just been refreshed at a very pleasant inn, but we still have not yet arrived at our true home.
Until we do,
More info about Breakwater at http://www.breakwaterministries.org
P.S. For those of you wondering why I am holding back and calling Maine “almost heaven,” I have a one word answer for you:
~ WINTER ~