AUGUSTA — During the 37 years Dr. Fred Craigie spent teaching psychology at the Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency program, he was known perhaps as much for providing spiritual guidance as he was dispensing the science of his field.

So when colleagues set about honoring Craigie’s retirement, they struck at the heart of him by creating an opportunity for people to improve their spiritual well-being. About 50 of those colleagues, students, friends and staff members from the residency program’s training hospital, MaineGeneral Medical Center, spent much of Saturday laying stones for a meditation labyrinth behind the hospital. The labyrinth will be part of the rustic walking trail mowed into the grass in the fields around the hospital.

“To be honored in this way is very kind,” Craigie said. “It’s very touching for me.”

The labyrinth is a fitting tribute to Craigie’s lifelong work because it will allow people a chance for spiritual renewal and refreshment, said Dr. Barbara Moss, a Maine-Dartmouth faculty member. Those who enter the labyrinth, which is comprised of a series of paths, will be taken on a journey designed to allow them to empty themselves and gain a new perspective. The labyrinth, she said, is a “walking meditation tour.”

“It’s a nondenominational form of meditating and quieting,” Moss said. “It’s actually very pretty, too.”

Forgotten Stoneworks, of Manchester, prepared the base upon which the stones are laid to create the path. Moss said the company will return once all the stones are in place to complete the final steps. “They were kind enough to allow us to participate,” Moss said of the company.

Jen Cavalari, a second-year resident at Maine-Dartmouth, and faculty member Mark Sutherland said they wanted to help create the labyrinth as a tribute to Craigie.

“Fred has been a mentor and friend to residents for 30 years,” Cavalari said. “I want to honor his commitment to the residents.”

Sutherland, who trained at Maine-Dartmouth before moving to a rural practice in Kansas, said he was drawn back to the Maine by the people.

“Fred is definitely one of those people,” Sutherland said.

Cavalari said Craigie is a “spiritual center” for many of the residents.

“He is just one who’s always grounded in loving compassion,” she said.

Physicians must have an underlying love, compassion and peace as they work with people so they can help patients see the path to health. The goal should be total health rather than simply treating a disease.

“Fred’s a role model for all residents and faculty to really live the model of wellness,” she said.

Craigie, 65, will continue to consult with Maine-Dartmouth and still will organize the annual Nevola Symposium, which he has done for the past 30 years.

Craigie dished out warm embraces as he greeted friends and colleagues who arrived Saturday to help build the labyrinth. Asked what the turnout meant to him, Craigie reflected quietly for a moment.

“It’s lovely,” he said. “It’s kind and generous for people to donate their time to put this together.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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