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Sabbath Day: From Sole to Soul

July 19, 2013

Sabbath Day is my weekly post of accountability to the fourth commandment: to keep a day for rest for the body and realignment for the soul. I observe this day each Thursday, although during the summer months my Sabbath seems to begin on Wednesday evening.

Last night my family participated in the downtown White Plains tradition of “Dancing Under the Stars” in Renaissance Plaza. Each Wednesday a new band provides music and this diverse city makes an outdoor festival. Noelle and August and I played cards in the grass (eventually joined by one of August’s friends from science camp) and I gave gymnastics tips to young girls (you can see them at the far end of the grass in the photo). And the music for the evening was classic soul, music to make the body move: “Take me to the River,” “Chain of Fools,” “I Never Loved a Man,” “Try a Little Tenderness,” “Treat Her Right,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” etc.

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I then enjoyed an hour with my friend Will at the sidewalk table of a nearby pub where we could have a good talk about theology, worship, organization and leadership, while still listening to the music in the street. Noelle and August picked up ice cream and we all walked home to be tucked into bed.

Or at least they were tucked in. I took off to Garcia’s in Port Chester to groove with Blue Roadhouse Orchestra till about 1:00 AM. When Garcia’s opened a month ago, adjacent to the famed Capitol Theater, they began a tradition of offering month long residencies to dead cover bands. Each Wednesday is “Dead Center,” offering specially themed Grateful Dead tribute shows. Last night: Dylan and the Dead. We were all “Tangled Up in Blue.” – Everybody Dancin’…

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This morning found me biking to science camp with August, having coffee with Noelle, making camp reservations for our upcoming vacation, and reading more about Lewis and Clark sites we will visit in a few weeks.

After sharing a nice brunch of eggs and bacon with Noelle I set out to complete a long walk I began last weekend. After worship on Sunday, Noelle dropped August and I off at Kensico Dam in Valhalla and we began our walk South toward Bronxville, following the path of the Bronx River Reservation. It was the middle of a heat wave, and August gave out after only two miles. I kept going as far as the Scarsdale Train Station (7 miles), where I had enough time for a dish of ice cream before being picked up. According to the inscription on the Valhalla Bridge, there are thirty-seven bridges and viaducts (like the one below), and sixty foot bridges on this thirteen mile walk.

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I repeated this routine today, walking from Bronxville North toward Scarsdale. On the Southern half of this route the almost inaudible Bronx River of the Northern Half becomes a babbling, falling companion everywhere. The photo below is of the dam at Crestwood Lake as the river drops into Tuckahoe. The entire walk from Kensico Dam in Valhalla to Palmer Street in Bronxville is 12.3 miles and passes right through White Plains.

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I made it back from this walk just in time to pick up August from camp and bring him home for an early dinner. I had just enough time to begin a new book The Spirited Walker: Fitness Walking for Clarity, Balance, and Spiritual Connection by Carolyn Scott Kortge (HarperSanFrancisco, 1999). Just fifteen minutes with the book pulled this day together for me with sentences like

“My steps lead to a spiritual path that travels from sole to soul.”

“Movement in the body brings movement in the mind.”

“The joyous connection that returns us to our senses occurs when body and mind fall in step together.”

Yep. That’s why walking with a goal of completing the Westchester 100 has become such a part of my sabbath practice this spring and summer. I am a happier, healthier and more mindful person after a walk.

So … what did I do after an early dinner when Noelle had an evening meeting which would take her out of the house? I put August’s bike in the car and we headed down to Sprain Ridge Park in Yonkers.

Ever since he was two years old August has fantasized about off-roading. ATV, bike, pick-up truck – it didn’t matter. So I took his current enthusiasm for biking and sent him out on a very challenging set up climbs, drops and switch-backs. He had the kind of nervous fun typical of someone learning new skills, and he received encouragement from other mountain bikers. “I’m not sure about this” and “I’m a little scared” were followed by shouts of “Look at me!” and ” Woo hoo!” Here he is speeding past the “bent tree” on the Slick Rock Trail.

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With our several hot and sweaty hours in this park, to which we will return, I have checked off my 40th hike on the Westchester 100. Ten more hikes to go for a certificate from the Westchester Trails Association. Sixty more for the much coveted patch. I had a good friend describe me last week as “task oriented.” I guess so, but the sense of place that comes from having walked miles and miles of where I live at the pace of 1 -3 miles and hour is invaluable. If Carolyn Scott Korge can speak of moving from Sole to Soul, my agrarian heart tends to think of moving from Soil to Soul. I am glad and refreshed to have touched so much of my local soil/soul today.

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