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Sabbath Day – Goat/Walking

September 18, 2017

For Thursday, September 14

Goats and walking seem to have been themes running through this Sabbath Day, my first in some time. I began my day by walking my son to school.

Walking August to school is a real gift. I have walked him to school ever since his very first day at the Setauket Presbyterian Church Preschool. When we moved to White Plains, we chose his elementary school primarily so I could keep walking with him. For one year only, after we moved to our co-op apartment, August took the bus, but even then I walked him to the bus stop each day. Now he is in sixth grade and his school is just a block and a half from our apartment.

All last year he talked about how much he was looking forward to being able to walk himself to school this year – how he would no longer need a parent to drop him off or pick him up. Noelle and I, of course, walked him to school on the first day this year. But the next morning, as I was enjoying my morning coffee and he was getting ready to leave, he said, “Are you ready to go dad?” I admit I was turning backflips inside. He has continued ask me everyday to go with him. I know I am now walking at his invitation, so I will not miss a day as long as it lasts.

I spent the rest of the morning writing out the sermon I had preached from notes the previous Sunday. Limited time, parent responsibilities, and no small amount of anxiety for my mother and grandmother in Naples, Florida as Irma bore down on them meant that I was unable to write out the sermon last week. The sermon contained stories about my recent trip to Central America, and in posting it I spent time looking through my pictures from the trip. Here is a sheep and a goat I met at an ecological park in Guatemala. Later that evening I met a man in the street, walking his goat, who offered me milk. 

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I then spent a few hours with Jim Corbett’s Goatwalking: A Guide to Wildland Living – A Quest for the Peaceable Kingdom, which is his eco-spiritual memoir. Jim inspired so many people who inspire me, yet I have never read this book. It’s about partnership between humans and wild places, which seemed fitting as I prepared for Wilderness Sunday, the Third Sunday in the Season of Creation. The book had come up at a funeral, of all places, last week and I quickly ordered copies for myself and my new conversation partner. Chapter three is all about animal husbandry, and I read to August from the book when he got home from school, all about goat evolution, vision, appetite, hardiness, and how milking a goat is different form milking a cow. I found myself wishing I had taken up the offer in Guatemala for goat milk.

I even slipped a line from Jim’s book into my next sermon: “No way of living can be right that is part of a livelihood system that destroys rather than supports life.”

My imagination now somewhere in the Sonoran desert with Jim Corbett, I greeted August after school and took him to Greenburgh Nature Center where he volunteers taking care of the large animals and his adopted goat. We talking animatedly all the way out there about Jim’s claim that a person with a goat and the ability to forage could survive indefinitely in the wild, so August let me come in a say ‘hi’ to his goat Linden and Henrietta the turkey.  We then took a good walk around the Center grounds before going home.

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All in all, a very peaceful and reflective Sabbath day. 

Wishing one for all of you, Jeff

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