Photo courtesy of Tysons Partnership
There’s a new way to connect in Tysons: cycling.
From my neighborhood on the east side, pedal around the Safeway or take a left at the Kingston apartments through MITRE Corporation to the McLean Metro stop at Route 123. Despite the wait, the crossing is safe and better than the one at the Great Falls intersection. And though I’ve never tried it, you could take the elevators (escalator anyone?) and cross over the Metro bridge as well.
In the early morning, fog might settle on the new Jones Branch connector (Scotts Crossing) by Capital One and Wegman’s, but there’s usually bright sun and little traffic over the thrumming Beltway and hazy skyline. The bridge is pitched so you can make it up on most road bikes, and it has pristine cycle lanes.
Go left on Jones Branch past the Hilton or right past Valo Park and left up Westbranch, which I usually do, and turn right on Westpark for a climb that gets the heart pumping all the way to International Drive. A right at Greensboro across from the Boro and Whole Foods sends you sailing past the Rotunda down to the “T” at Spring Hill for a quick left past the Ascent to the Metro stop on Route 7. The new Vesper Trail on the southeast side pops into Vienna, where I have explored the back roads to find a safe route to the W and O & D trail. There’s even a way to Wolf Trap that avoids the narrow (and scary) parts of Old Courthouse Road. It’s an adventure to find these links between east and west.
Alternatively, the sidewalk past the old Sheraton leads to a trail and a bridge that crosses the Dulles Access Road to Jarrett Valley Drive and the McLean Islamic Center, one of our Tysons Interfaith Partners. Explore the MIC neighborhood and cut across a bit of grass along Route 7 to the service road leading to the traffic signal at Lewinsville, where three churches, including TI member St. Thomas Episcopal, are located. Loop back along Lewinsville or explore the back roads to the Spring Hill Recreation Center along the rolling hills of Brook Road. There’s a bridge/tunnel trail from Spring Hill on the north side of Route 7 as well, but it stops way short. Soon, hopefully, all will be smooth sailing on both sides!
Pedaling around the area this COVID-19 spring and fall, I was impressed by the energy and diversity of Tysons, where young and old of many different backgrounds come out to exercise, walk their dogs, and play. They should also cycle, run, or walk through the Vienna and McLean neighborhoods, where the flora and fauna provide a yin to the yang of the emerging urban space. I’m not sure I would use a Bike Share loaner to cross the connector bridge, but the Vesper Trail is doable, and hardier folks might try the steeper climbs or even the bridge. You can always push the bike, as I saw one construction worker do one morning crossing from west to east. Where did he begin his journey?
Here is an interactive map you can use to explore the possibilities. The Vesper Trail is the unmarked route that parallels Spring Hill and ends on Vesper and Higdon Streets in Vienna: https://fairfaxcountygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=8a7ac4884e9c4c9bb37acc69dfb237a4
There are multiple instances in the Christian Gospels where Jesus is asked which commandment is the greatest. You can read these different accounts in Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, and Luke 10:25-28. Here is the story as Matthew tells it:
34When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
I understand Jesus’ teaching to mean that every law in scripture and every word of encouragement from the prophets to live rightly may be summed up in the actions of loving God and loving our neighbors.
This love that Jesus is talking about isn’t romantic love. The Greek word is agapé, and it means self-sacrificing love. It’s the love that asks us to put another’s needs above our own. And, when Jesus says we are to love our neighbor, he’s not simply talking about the person who lives next door to us. He’s talking about all the people we encounter, known and unknown.
I’ve been thinking about this teaching of Jesus’ as I’ve heard the debate about mask wearing in these days of COVID-19. I’ve heard people justify their refusal to wear a mask in a few different ways: wearing a mask in some way infringes on their personal freedom; they aren’t worried about catching COVID, so they won’t wear a mask; and/or the government doesn’t have the right to tell others what to do.
I believe that kind of thinking is completely counter to Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbor. My primary reason for wearing a mask is to protect other people, in case I have unknowingly caught COVID. For me, wearing a mask is one way I can live fully into Jesus commandment to love my neighbor. Whatever your faith tradition, I hope you’ll join me.
This blog post is the expressed opinion of its writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
The following blog post is the expressed opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Tysons Interfaith or its members.
Learning From A Shepherd
After thirty-five years in the military and twenty years in business, I find myself team teaching leadership to high school seniors. January sixth was a challenging moment to handle all their questions. But as a person of faith, I naturally turned to prayer to guide my responses to their questions. An idea came to thought from a poem by the Discover of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. The poem begins, “Shepherd, show me how to go o’er the hillside steep…”. Responding to this guidance, I quoted from the King James version of the Bible from Gospel of Mark: “Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”
My challenge to these students was to have them look deeply into the qualities of this great shepherd to see how he led and why people of diverse backgrounds followed him? After a couple of weeks of instruction and discussion, I asked them to share inspiration and gratitude they had gained. Imagine my thrill when someone read” The Hill We Climb” written by Ms. Amanda Gorman, the National Youth Poet Laureate which she read at the Presidential Inauguration. Her beautiful poem included the line “If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy in change, our children’s birthright.” Love is a leadership quality. In Henry Drummond’s book, The Greatest Thing In The World, he tells the reader that love has nine ingredients that should be universally shared: patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness, sincerity. Our leadership class agreed that Ms. Gorman’s poem included all these enduring leadership characteristics.
Can we substantially learn from others? Many would place me in a category of being “over the hill” and would call the teenagers I work with as “immature”. But one of the tenets of my religion states “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.” Daniel was a teenage shepherd while Moses was at the other end of the spectrum, yet both were leaders who let God speak through them to others.
People of faith can find the opportunity to share and to bless. I know I was blessed when my student recognized the gifts and wisdom of Amanda Gorman and was inspired to embrace these same leadership (shepherding) qualities with the class.