Titbits Are Go!

The Shaker in Me

J.P. Williams
2 min readNov 24, 2023
Shaker sewing table, 1843. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Growing up, I worked with my grandfather on carpentry projects. Often he would remind me as I worked — drawing lines, sawing wood, hammering nails — to take my time, not rush, do everything just right. My grandfather was a church-going man, but there was nothing religious in his instruction. Nonetheless, he was teaching me an ethic for which the Shakers are particularly known. In “Pleasant Hill,” found in Mystics and Zen Masters (The Noonday Press, 1967), interfaith mystic Thomas Merton writes that the Shakers saw God as a Master Builder and their own work as an exercise in inward and outward spiritual balance:

“At all times their work had to be carried on at a steady, peaceful rhythm.”

We don’t live in a time that favors such activity, and I’m not sure my life wouldn’t in some ways be better if I hadn’t learned my grandfather’s lessons so well, but I’d like to think that at least a little of what I’ve created has had a beauty that, while unnoticed by the world, exists all the same — in the eyes of God, the Shakers might say.

Note: I wrote this for Medium.com. If you are reading this on another platform, it has been pirated. I quit the Medium Partner Program, so I’m not doing this for money. It is nice, however, to know someone’s reading, so please clap or comment to let me know somebody’s out there. Gladius adhuc lucet.

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J.P. Williams

I usually write about the intersection of arts and ideas. Right now, mostly lighter, shorter pieces on whatever I feel like.