Simple Gifts: Lessons in Living from a Shaker Village

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9780375704321: Simple Gifts: Lessons in Living from a Shaker Village

In Simple Gifts, June Sprigg tells the story of one of America's last Shaker communities--Canterbury Shaker Village, in Canterbury, New Hampshire--during its twilight years, and of its seven remarkable "survivor" women, who were among the last representatives of our longest-lived and best-known communal utopian society. As a college student Sprigg spent a summer among them, and here she gracefully interweaves the narrative of their lives with the broader history of Shakers in America as she shows us how her experiences there affected her own life and opened the door to her creativity.

Gleaning information from old records and journals that she pored over that summer and later, Sprigg brings to life the generations of Canterbury Shakers from the eighteenth century to the present--their customs, their architecture, their spirituality. She also explores the social and cultural forces and the internal imperatives and tensions that caused membership to decrease, all of which, by 1972, brought the community to crisis.

Chronicling the daily life of the village as she found it, Sprigg uncovers the affirming energies of the Shakers--the prominence of mutual love and respect, the devoted tradition of mothering surrogate children, and, above all, the surviving women's spirited eccentricities. She reveals the Shakers as individuals--their personal histories, their wildly different beginnings, what they gave up to join the Shaker community, and, more important, what they gained.

Through her lively text and drawings and her intimate connection with the community, Sprigg brings us close to its people with a book that both enlightens and inspires.
From the Hardcover edition.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

Review :

"This is a simple story that means the world to me," June Sprigg writes by way of preface to Simple Gifts, her memoir of a summer spent with the last seven residents of a New Hampshire Shaker community. It's a fitting motto for the serene, unadorned lives of these women--"members of an endangered species," as one of the elderly sisters wryly says--and of the joy they brought a girl who at 19 was "half in and half out of the egg." Although the Shakers took vows of celibacy, their religious tradition always included caring for children--especially those society refused to provide for--and after so many years, the sisters were delighted to have a girl to dote on once again. For her own part, Sprigg found much-needed guidance as she made her own transition into womanhood: "What might have seemed like the unlikeliest of friendships--me at nineteen, a miniskirted college sophomore, and six Shaker sisters in their seventies, eighties, and nineties, soft and wrinkled as old plums--made sense, perhaps to our mutual surprise." As Sprigg spends the summer guiding tours, working alongside the sisters, and poring over old journals, a portrait emerges of a community that remains vital even during its twilight years. Perhaps more importantly, Sprigg finds a spiritual lineage that stretches from one generation to the next--even, she imagines, coming to rest in a non-Shaker like herself. More than just a profile of a historical curiosity, this memoir tells the stories of seven remarkable but very different women, and in the process offers a invaluable testimony to the life of the spirit put into joyous practice.

From the Back Cover :

From chapter two of Simple Gifts

Whenever I have thought of my time with the Shakers, one image has always come to mind first and strongest, a single moment that seemed to epitomize the whole of that summer. That image is with me still. In my mind's eye on this dismal, gray Massachusetts day, I am again nineteen, rocking and gently perspiring on a summertime porch in southern New Hampshire half my life ago. I can see us and hear us as if the scene were preserved in the smooth glow of amber. . . .
We are four: Sister Lillian Phelps, ninety-six, Eldress Bertha Lindsay, seventy-four, Eldress Gertrude Soule, seventy-seven, and I, comfortably tipping to and fro in our chairs, every forward surge sending a delicate breeze to foreheads and cheeks. It is the end of a summer afternoon and we are all taking a breather before Bertha goes downstairs to start supper. The ladies are talking quietly of this and that. The words aren't clear in my memory, but that doesn't matter so much. What persists is the tone: gentle, serene, at ease. The sound of their voices is like music. Lillian's low chuckles are the bass notes to Bertha's fluty laugh, which sometimes ends in a sigh. Now Eldress Gertrude introduces the fugue in her reedy contralto.

Thirty knotted fingers rest for a while on summery, flowered laps. Ten young fingers fiddle with a loop of frizzy hair. If the sheer goodness in which I feel bathed assumed substance, it would have the honeyed light of a mature afternoon and the faint scent of roses from Bertha's soap. This was Canterbury Shaker Village in 1972. In my memory, this moment lasts all summer long.

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Description du livre Random House USA Inc, United States, 1999. Paperback. État : New. Vintage Books.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In Simple Gifts, June Sprigg tells the story of one of America s last Shaker communities--Canterbury Shaker Village, in Canterbury, New Hampshire--during its twilight years, and of its seven remarkable survivor women, who were among the last representatives of our longest-lived and best-known communal utopian society. As a college student Sprigg spent a summer among them, and here she gracefully interweaves the narrative of their lives with the broader history of Shakers in America as she shows us how her experiences there affected her own life and opened the door to her creativity. Gleaning information from old records and journals that she pored over that summer and later, Sprigg brings to life the generations of Canterbury Shakers from the eighteenth century to the present--their customs, their architecture, their spirituality. She also explores the social and cultural forces and the internal imperatives and tensions that caused membership to decrease, all of which, by 1972, brought the community to crisis. Chronicling the daily life of the village as she found it, Sprigg uncovers the affirming energies of the Shakers--the prominence of mutual love and respect, the devoted tradition of mothering surrogate children, and, above all, the surviving women s spirited eccentricities. She reveals the Shakers as individuals--their personal histories, their wildly different beginnings, what they gave up to join the Shaker community, and, more important, what they gained. Through her lively text and drawings and her intimate connection with the community, Sprigg brings us close to its people with a book that both enlightens and inspires. From the Hardcover edition. N° de réf. du libraire BTE9780375704321

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