A memoir recommended for those who wish to explore the transient things of life that can help them perceive their own spirituality as a creative force by melding contemplation, action, prophetic outrage, and intuitive energy.
In her previous work, The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd, Mary Rose O'Reilley modeled for us an example of multiple religious participation (MRPing), defined as the conscious use of the ideas, practices, and sensibilities of another tradition by a person firmly rooted in his or her own faith. O'Reilley was raised a Catholic, served as a novice in a religious community for two years, has taken Buddhist precepts as a lay practitioner, and has taught English and environmental studies in a university since 1978. In this consistently engaging work, which she doesn't want to call either a collection of essays or a memoir, the author honors the ephemeral things of life, a softer way of knowing that accentuates inwardness, and a jolly delight in both the comic and the transcendent as "showstoppers."
O'Reilley writes about the idiosyncratic members of her birth family and the shock of her mother's death, the sense of purpose she has gotten out of working as a wild animal rehabilitator, the pleasures of shape note singing, the challenges of spiritual companioning, the discipline of being a potter, and the restorative values inherent in walking meditation, which she learned while attending a long retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village in France. She now conceives of spirituality as a species of artistic perception. No wonder she loves to write poetry, savors silence, feels at home both in the woods and in a Friends Church, and aspires to die simply like a heron "who leaned her long neck on my shoulder a few weeks ago and died."
Read this book, and you will see shards of your own life come into focus through O'Reilley's observations and confessions. She will help you see your own spirituality as a creative force that melds contemplation, action, prophetic outrage, and intuitive energy.