Shaker Sayings – Hands to Work Hearts to God

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 2 Comments

Quote1aI’ve reached into my blog archives again tonight with a reworked post of Shaker sayings. The Innocent on e-book sale has me thinking Shakers and it is Shaker Wednesday or was when I posted this. 🙂

Every week on my Facebook author’s page, I do “Shaker Wednesday” where I hunt up some bit of Shaker history or maybe a picture of something the Shakers made or a building in one of their villages. Some days I just post a Shaker saying. Most of the sayings are based on commonsense.

“Hands to work. Hearts to God.” This saying is, no doubt, the most familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Shakers. It is so much a part of the Shakers’ beliefs that it has found its way into all my Shaker stories.

I drop in other sayings when they fit the storyline. One I’ve often used is “Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as if you were to die tomorrow.” To me, that one reveals how they thought their work was to be perfect but also as productive as possible with diligent attention to the details of their tasks.

I’ve often allowed an established sister or elder to speak the following one to my character who is generally a novitiate trying to learn about this strange group of people and their odd ideas that go so against the ways of the world. Our testimony is for peace, now and always. No Christian can use carnal weapons or fight. He never did so. We oppose wars of households, and wars of nations. All wars are the result of lusts for lands and for women. Those who marry will fight.” That sort of shows why they believed in celibacy.

This is one I like too. “None preaches better than the ant, and it says nothing.” Or this is one I might have used in my Christmas Shaker book. “Man is a harp with a thousand strings.  Touch the spiritual cord of his heart, and lo, with what inspiration he sings!”

A reader did the graphic up top with a quote she pulled from my book The Innocent. When she first sent it to me, I wondered, at first, where she got the quote. Then I was like, oh yeah. From my book. It can be interesting pulling out quote or line here and there from a book. Here are a few that were taken from my Shaker book, The Gifted for some kind of promotion. They sort of give you a quick view of some of the themes of that story.

Security generally trumped love in the game of life. Love was a poor man’s card of choice. (Tristan thinking about how he was expected to marry to enhance his family fortunes.)

“A waste of time chasing the past. It won’t do anything but bite you if you catch it.” (Laura Cleveland’s father warning Sheldon Brady not to look backward.)

And last, Laura telling Tristan why they can marry but perhaps never have love. “Love can’t be ordered up. It is a serendipitous thing with wings that swoops here and there and sometimes lands on you when you least expect it. Or when you can ill afford to follow your heart.”

So what do you think? Do you like any of those Shaker sayings or the bits pulled from my Shaker book? Do you ever focus on particular lines or passages in the fictional books you read?

Thanks so much for reading. I do appreciate each of you.



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