~~Whenever I go to the Shaker village not far from my farm, I feel as if I’ve gone back to a different moment in time. I can’t deny a feeling of peace in that place. Even though I’ve read a lot of Shaker history and know their Societies were not always peaceful and trouble free, still I feel the peace there as I walk along those tree-lined streets and gaze at the sturdy buildings that have lasted far longer than their Society did in that place. The Shakers sought peace and union with God and their fellow Believers by putting their hands to work and giving their hearts to God. For many of the Believers it worked. They did find peace and purpose and walked the Shaker way with gladness and devotion. Others did not and went back to the “world.”
~~The Shakers did their best to be self sufficient with each member working for the good of the whole. Then as their numbers grew they needed a way to keep all hands busy so they began to manufacture items for the world like these flat brooms. A Shaker man in one of the eastern villages came up with the idea for a better broom and a way of stitching the broom flat. Today re-enactors in the village still make brooms the Shaker way. Then they ape the good business sense of the Shakers and sell the brooms that were made for the entertainment of the tourist guest in the village’s gift shop. That’s where these brooms in the picture were. Waiting for someone to carry them home and put them to work.
~~The Shakers are long gone from this Shaker village of Pleasant Hill. The pathways and buildings are empty of all but tourists and workers. Nothing is left now of the people who once lived and worked there except a few markers in their graveyard. But if you try you can hear the echo of their songs and the stomp of their feet in the meetinghouse. You can imagine with very little problem a Shaker sister’s skirt whirling about her as she spins in religious ecstasy. And you can wonder at this contradictory people. Every action of their daily lives was disciplined and ordered by their Ministry, but yet their worship could be open and free. In reading accounts of some of their spirit visitations, they sound like children playing pretend.
~~My Shaker books are not so peaceful. In The Seeker first one army and then another marches through the center of the village destroying the peace of the place. Just a few more weeks until the book is out to bookstores. I received beautiful postcards and bookmarks today. If you would like some, contact me from my website, http://www.annhgabhart.com/ and I’ll send you some. You can also click on my Facebook page and/or sign up for my newsletter from the website. I should have a newsletter spinning across cyberspace by the end of the week. There will be news of how you can enter several drawings to win a copy of The Seeker in July.
~~Have you ever visited a Shaker village? What did you like best about it? Maybe you bought a Shaker broom. Hope you have a great today and a better tomorrow.