I've always liked the Shakers. What's not to like about a people whose intention was nothing less than to build Heaven on earth? Plus, they ate apple pie almost every day. And made really excellent chairs. And worshipped by dancing.
They pooled their possessions and built perfect little towns, where they worked hard everyday to sustain themselves. They considered good work a form of worship. They sang a lot. They ate beans and cream for dinner and said it was the most delicious thing in the world.
The didn't believe in nuclear families. Instead, they organized into large, communal groups.
A few of their towns are open to the public. There's one in Canterbury, New Hampshire. Meredith and her friend Lexie were visiting from Utah, so we took 'em along.
The place is gorgeous and peaceful...
...and empty. Because, well here's the problem: Shakers believe in celibacy. So, without a steady influx of new converts, they're destined to die out. They believe in keeping men and women separate. When we visited their meeting house, there was a door for the men, and a door for the women on the other end of the building. We sat on opposite sides of the room. Quirky. Lovable. But inevitably unsustainable.
There are now three Shakers left in the world. They live in Maine. And they're happy to accept new recruits! Actually I really wonder why they haven't had an influx of new members lately. It seems like it's just the thing for these insecure times. Simple, old-school, dependable living. The lifestyle seems charming.
I was completely enticed by the Shakers' simplicity, their connection to the seasons, their industrious hard work, their worship-through-music-and-dance, and their true sense of equality. Marc and I would totally join --it would be a next great adventure!-- if not for he whole becoming mere brother and sister thing. ...and the religion thing. ...aaaand the beans and cream thing. But other than that, we're so in!