Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shaker Aly

JD and I watched a documentary on Shakers not long ago. I loved it. They live simple lives devoted to loving others, working hard with their hands and are in complete servitude to God. And they make awesome furniture. At the end of it, JD looked at me and said, "you could totally be a Shaker, couldn't you?" He knows me so well. These people are awesome and their way of life is right up my alley. Except for the whole celibacy thing. I could not do that. I love how even with all of the modern conveniences available, they still make almost everything by hand and choose not to cut corners because they believe in hard work.

Like the Shakers, I really try to get to the basics of things. Don't laugh but I often ask myself "if I lived in Bible times, how would I _____?" Except for dental hygiene. I really don't want to know how folks took care of their teeth back then. Can you imagine their breath? Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for modern technology and indoor plumbing, but I remain skeptical of artificial flavoring and labels with 28 unpronounceable ingredients listed. I try to think of ways to do things that are A) healthy, B) affordable and C) the most natural way possible. I try to adopt this philosophy in most areas of my life.

When I was in elementary school, we made butter. We had little glass baby food jars, cream and salt. We shook those jars until we made rich, creamy butter. I want to churn my family's butter. I want to raise chickens and collect fresh eggs for homemade sourdough french toast. I want to harvest a small crop of summer vegetables and work a loom. I want to farm goats and make the most delectable cheeses. The fainting kind, just for kicks and giggles.

I like how the Shakers focused on serving others and working hard to cultivate the skills they possessed. There is so much value in knowing how to use your hands and serve others by cooking a meal or building something. I am totally inspired to learn new ways to serve my family and community. I want to instill that in Beatrice.

I like how the Shakers were not afraid of a little extra work. I'm not afraid of extra work. You know that feeling after you've been going nonstop for 12 hours and the laundry is folded and everyone has clean sheets and the pantry is stocked and the coffee pot is set for the next day and you crawl into bed thinking "man, I worked my butt off today?" That's a great feeling. It's great because you know that you did something for your family today. You served them. Even after everyone goes to bed (as it often is in my house), you're still up meal-planning and crocheting the cat a blanket because you are sick of vacuuming the fur off of the couch EVERY SINGLE DAY, you are still working. That is a great feeling.

I think we can all learn a little something from the Shakers about hard work. They love God, they love their community and they hold their craftsmanship to the highest standards. Heck yeah I could be a Shaker, honey. In fact, I think I may already be one.

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