This day was so full of good things that I hardly know where to start. A dear friend of mine invited me to her time-share in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusets, USA. The leaves are just starting to turn and the weather is perfect; pleasant temperatures, no humidity and sunny skies. The accommodations are very spacious and well appointed. After a smooth trip down from Montreal and a quick stop in a grocery store that can only be described as palatial we settled in for a quiet evening yesterday. Today we went on an outing to the nearby Shaker Village. The Shakers, as many of you may know were a religious sect that flourished in the 18th century in New England. They were master designers of furniture, farm equipment and barns and accessories like baskets and boxes. These accomplishments sprang from their religious conviction that people should live in rural communities and that every action and product should be a form of prayer. Thus, if someone set out to make a basket it should be the most unadorned, functional and beautiful basket one could design and produce. The name “Shakers” is a deformation of Quakers, the austere Protestant sect the members of which came to America to practice freely. The Shakers addedd the element of physical action as a form of worship. They wrote and performed thousands of religious songs to be sung at their long and loud religious services. At the village we visited today, we had the good luck to be on time for a musical session. This was led by a gentleman who directed us to sit “Shaker style” with men on one side of the room and women on the other. He explained some of the actions that were performed during the singing of rather simple hymns. He was joined by another man and two women singers and , guess what, audience participation was encouraged. I don’t have to tell those of you who know me that I was among the first on my feet to “clap to the right and stamp to the left” to praise God and stamp out the devil. When you consider that a couple of hundred people would participate in services, Shakers and “worldly people”, it is not surprising that the sound from such services could be heard a mile away. Besides clapping and stamping, Shakers “shook out evil” hence the name. They are such an interesting group and well, Wikopedia exists for a reason. They died out for two reasons: they insisted on celibacy in their villages and their methods of farming to sustain the community could not keep up with modern techniques. Their music is interesting and their philosophy, very parallel to Eastern notions of ecstatic worship and austerity, is facinating. It was a lovely day to wander around the property and observe some of the arts and crafts being practiced.
We had a great homemade supper on our return and spent much of the evening observing the eclipse of the moon. How beautiful and mysterious it was. Human beings, the wonderful forested mountains in this area, a large wild turkey we saw on the road, the Shaker beliefs, the truly wonderful eclipse of the moon, and a kind friend……..what more could I wish for?
Oh, I do have one thing to wish for, if you enjoy the posts and have time to,read them now and then, please follow on isobelmtl.wordpress.com rather than on the Facebook site. I have to keep up my numbers. Thanks iso