In this weekend’s column in the Citizen-Times I compared our experiences at Gethsemani Abbey and Shaker Village in Kentucky.
Shakers, Trappists and the Inclusive Dance of Simplicity
This coming weekend we take a little deeper look at Shakers and their dream of paradise. While awaiting heaven above, they may have planted a bit of heaven in Kentucky. Cistercian monk Thomas Merton wrote about this, so he joins the conversation.
An excerpt from “Thomas Merton, Shakers and the Paradise Myth”:
While awaiting that End Time, the Shakers worked the land and concentrated their efforts on crafting beautiful buildings and furniture. Their unique craftsmanship was “not only a manifestation of their practicality but a witness to their common faith. Indeed one is tempted to say that it is a better, clearer, more comprehensible expression of their faith than their written theology was.” Merton goes on to state: “The inspired Shaker simplicity, the reception of simplicity as a charismatic gift, as a sign of truth and of salvation, is powerfully and silently eloquent in the word of their hands.” What they did, what they made with their own hands, and even their silence, spoke more loudly than their beliefs. What they created was who they were, it embodied their belief. “Silently eloquent.”
(photo: Merton with the Dalai Lama)
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