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Sabbath Day

March 28, 2014

I keep sabbath on Thursdays. I write about my practice each week to encourage you in yours.

As I often do on my sabbath day, I slept in today. Research shows that almost all of us function on less sleep than we need, so I have made it a Lenten discipline this year to get eight hours of sleep each night. I needed the extra sleep this morning because I was out late last night. The Stella Blues Band was playing at Garcia’s, celebrating their 100th show, so I was dancing till well after the midnight hour.

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Once up however, I had a good cup of coffee while reading an essay by Thomas Berry. In 1988, Berry wrote The Dream of the Earth which quickly became a classic of environmental literature. Since then Berry has been emphatic that recovering a sense of the sacred universe to which we belong is essential to learning to live lightly on the earth.

We are talking to ourselves. We are not talking to the rivers, we are not listening to the wind and stars. We have broken the great conversation. By breaking that conversation we have shattered the universe. All the disasters that are happening now are a consequence of that spiritual “autism.”

With that in mind, I picked up a good friend and went walking outdoors. For the next few weeks I am going to trace the Colonial Greenway, 15 miles of trail through Scarsdale, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle. Today we followed the center trail, or Blue Blaze, which extends from one end of the Leatherstocking Trail in Mamaroneck to the Hutchison River Parkway in Scarsdale, along the way passing through the James G. Johnson Conservancy and Ward Acres Park. This is my friend Anne just below the Larchmont Reservoir and Sheldrake Lake area in Wykagyl. We had a good time catching up. It’s been too long.

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Westchester is full of small gems like this park. The Sheldrake River, which feeds the reservoir where this photo was taken, was  the source of drinking water for Larchmont from the 1750s until the 1970s. It has seen a saw mill, a grist mill and a cotton mill: an original mill stone is still visible next to the old stone toll house near Goodliffe Pond. There is such surprising beauty hidden all over our county. The fresh air did us good.

Early afternoon found Noelle and I finishing summer camp plans for our son August, and beginning to plan some vacation time for our family. After that, we picked up August from school and went out for our first family hike of the year. We settled on the very accesible Warburg Park in Millwood, just off the Pine Bridge Road exit on the Taconic Parkway. This park is a set up loops around the village composting center, tracing the streams that feed into Wood Duck Pond. The trails pass through several habitats, including vernal ponds, one of which was still completely frozen over and on which August was comfortable standing. It also contains impressive stone formation which led to off trail adventures, rock climbing, and “cave” exploring. August’s imagination was fully alive.

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When we returned to the trail head we used the Yelp app to find a good place to eat, and found ourselves minutes later at Maya Riviera in Briarcliff Manor – sitting beside a beautiful gas fireplace and enjoying excellent Mexican food.

All in all, I returned home refreshed, restored and inspired.

That is how I kept my sabbath. How will you keep yours?

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