Cell phones. Laptops. Pagers. Blackberries. Palm Pilots.
As technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected wherever and whenever, it s getting more difficult for people to find the time and the space to unplug and unwind.
Our Lady of the Pines Retreat Center in Fremont is one place that offers people a chance to tune out the busy world around them and tune into their own spirituality.
The concept of going aside by yourself goes back to biblical times, said Sister Dorothy Dalton, one of the Sisters of Mercy religious order that runs the retreat center.
In the Bible, people went off to the desert to get away from everything. But it s also been a recent trend for people to go away by themselves, Sister Dorothy said.
Among the other spiritual retreat centers in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan are the De Sales Center in Brooklyn, Mich., operated by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales; the Sisters of St. Francis campus in Sylvania, and Visitation Spirituality Center in Monroe, run by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Genesis Dreamplex, a former South Toledo hotel converted to a ministry center by First Church of God, also is planning to offer space for spiritual retreats.
In Sylvania, surrounded by the bustle of suburban life, two log-cabin hermitages are set on the sprawling 89 acres owned by the Sisters of St. Francis.
The hermitages are for quiet, solitude, and prayer, Sister Patrice Kerin said.
There are people who use them for a day, for five days, for a week, whatever fits their schedules, she said.
Some of the busiest people make a point to schedule one day a month at the hermitage for their own peace of mind, Sister Patrice said.
We are nondenominational. People from all denominations have used our hermitages, she said.
The one-person cabins are self-contained with a galley kitchen, shower, seating area, desk, and a bed.
There also is a screened-in porch, and the room is air-conditioned.
The campus is magnificent right now. Everything is in bloom, Sister Patrice said.
The Sisters of St. Francis also have space to accommodate groups of up to 35 people, she said, plus a conference room. Parish councils, Bible study groups, and others can hold retreats at the campus.
Two hermitages also are available at Our Lady of the Pines on the retreat center s lush, pine-covered 63 acres in Fremont.
The small, wood-frame hermitages are simple, with basic amenities, but comfortable, Sister Dorothy said.
They are equipped with electricity and cooking facilities, although visitors may elect to join the nuns and guests for meals in the main building.
Some people will come for just a weekend; some will come for a week, Sister Dorothy, a Fremont native, said.
There s also a concept of a 30-day retreat that people can do, she said.
The property has belonged to the Sisters of Mercy since 1925, and the first retreat there that was open to the public took place in 1931.
The hermitages are open to people of any faith, tradition, or denomination, Sister Dorothy said.
We are a Roman Catholic institution, but there is a broad group of people who come here, she said. Most of them are Christians, but if a Buddhist or a Muslim would want to come, they surely would be welcome.
Visitors usually come to pray, read the Bible, and meditate away from the distractions of daily life in the 21st century.
It is not always an easy transition, Sister Dorothy said.
To really go away and be on your own, you usually need a day or two to really even be able to listen, she said.
At Visitation in Monroe, directed retreats are offered in which visitors are guided on their retreats that alternate prayer, solitude, listening, and contemplation.
Two simply furnished hermitages each accommodate one person, and the IHM Sisters also have a retreat house.
The De Sales Center has hermitages that are for rent, and guests can enjoy access to the Oblates chapel, spiritual library, and 214 acres of scenic woodland.
Contact David Yonke at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.