The above is a phrase popular with the American religious group called “Shakers”. For a while their furniture and very simple aesthetic became fashionable in the 1990s and while visiting St Vladimir’s in New York, I drove up to the Shaker museums to visit Hancock Shaker Village.
There is no doubt that it was a beautiful way of life: everything simple, carefully made, an elegance of form and function allowing the gifts of God in creation to be used in a dignified and calm way for work. It was also a communal and fair way of life – at least in its aims, if not final results. “The Shakers based their religion and their lives on celibacy, communal living, and the confession of sin. They attempted to attain spiritual and temporal simplicity, pacifism and perfection in all aspects of their lives.”
This coming week I will be away from the internet, almost all telephone and definitely all social media for a full week. It’s a bit like a retreat, except I will be teaching some wonderful people about how to paint an icon; I will share photographs and a little about how it went when I return and catch my breath again, but in the meantime, we will be putting our hands to work, and giving our hearts to God.