I’m told that the musculature of the physical body sustains little tears and insults as we go about our daily work, and that we need deep sleep to repair damaged tissue. In stage-four sleep, the brain secretes a growth hormone that, unturned, nudges the liver to produce an insulin-like substance that goes to work easing the micro injuries of every day. A busy cycle of internal healing operates while we’re unconscious. I’m convinced that the spirit, too, needs deep rest to reduce its habitual overdrive - rest that, in the mercy of creation, used to be woven into the daily fabric of chores. Vigils in the lambing barn, stacks of dishes to wash, garden to weed - I smile to myself when I hear my children and young coworkers rail against the repetitive work. It takes half a life to realize that these unsung, secret rhythmic occupations are creation’s gift to our species.
Mary Rose O'Reilly from The Barn at the End of the World: the Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd
“One can, I think, listen someone into existence, encourage a stronger self to emerge or a new talent to flourish. Good teachers listen this way, as do terrific grandfathers and similar heroes of the spirit.”
-Mary Rose O'Reilly, Radical Presence; Teaching as Contemplative Practice