Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shaker Sayings & The Gifted

My book in fine company at WalMart
Every week on my Facebook author's page, I do what I call "Shaker Wednesday." On those days I hunt up some bit of Shaker history or maybe a picture of something the Shakers made or a building in one of their villages. Some days I just post one of the Shaker sayings. They had a lot - many of them credited to their founder, Mother Ann. Many more were added as the years went by. Most of the sayings are based on commonsense. The Shakers were a practical, hard-working group of people who just happened to believe they weren't meant to marry and they were meant to dance as they worshiped. 

I use some of these sayings in all my Shaker books. One that I use most and is probably the most familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Shakers is "Hands to work. Hearts to God." That is so much a part of the Shakers' beliefs that it has to go in all my stories. Other sayings I drop in as needed. Another I've used a lot is "Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as if you were to die tomorrow." To me, that one reveals how they thought their work was to be perfect but also as productive as possible with diligent attention to the details of their tasks. 

I've often allowed an established sister or elder to speak the following one to my character who is generally a novitiate trying to learn about this strange group of people and their odd ideas that go so against the ways of the world. "Our testimony is for peace, now and always. No Christian can use carnal weapons or fight. He never did so. We oppose wars of households, and wars of nations. All wars are the result of lusts for lands and for women. Those who marry will fight." I suppose the Shakers didn't think about the fun of making up. 

 This is one I like too. "None preaches better than the ant, and it says nothing." I don't know what Shakerisms I'll find for my Christmas Shaker book. Perhaps this one. "Man is a harp with a thousand strings.  Touch the spiritual cord of his heart, and lo, with what inspiration he sings!”

I also came across a few bits I'd pulled out of my book The Gifted for some kind of promotion. I don't know that those ever got used, but the quotes weren't half bad. So I'm going to share them with you.

Security generally trumped love in the game of life. Love was a poor man's card of choice. (Tristan thinking about how he was expected to marry to enhance his family fortunes.)

"A waste of time chasing the past. It won't do anything but bite you if you catch it." (Laura Cleveland's father warning Sheldon Brady not to look backward.)

And last, Laura telling Tristan why they can marry but perhaps never have love. "Love can’t be ordered up. It is a serendipitous thing with wings that swoops here and there and sometimes lands on you when you least expect it. Or when you can ill afford to follow your heart.”

 It's interesting trying to pull a quote or two out of a 100,000 plus word novel. Do you ever notice particular passages in a fiction book? It is probably common to underline this or that part in non-fiction books, and now with the e-readers, favorite places can be easily marked and highlighted. At least that's what I've been told. If you have an e-reader, have you ever done that?

Thanks so much for reading. I do appreciate each of you.


  1. The Shaker stories are apart of our history and so glad you are sharing it, I received my copy of Gifted this week and anxious to read the story of Jessmine.
    Paula O(

  2. Hope you enjoy the story, Paula. I really enjoy including history in my stories. I went to the Shaker village near where I live yesterday. I always see things that maybe I wish I'd included in one of my stories.

  3. I enjoy the Shakerism's that you include in your stories, and can only imagine the difficulty in chosing some. There are so many gems among their sayings. I do appreciate them and the detail to historic settings you use. You make the historical Shaker village come alive, and I thank you for that. I enjoyed your latest novel. I am pleased to hear that you are working on a Christmas Shaker book.

    1. Kevin, the Shakers did have a lot of great sayings and quotes. Some of them I think they brought in from the "world." Some they came up with to fit their daily lives. Sometimes the Shakerisms fit easily. Sometimes I'm ready to invent one. I don't think I've done that yet. LOL. Thanks for reading my Shaker books and I'm glad you've liked the history in them.


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