Its quiet and serene. The quiet that I wasn’t even aware I didn’t have. I didn’t realize how quiet things could get until I spent a few days out of the city. Pleasant Hill was once a thriving community run by the Shakers, a religous group focused on celibacy and community. Now the founders of the village are gone, bu there’s still life in it and the memory or spirit still lingers. I was there for three days.

The grass is green and the land has enough of a slope to know you aren’t in Indiana, but not so much that it might interefere with growing things. Theres a working farm even though the people who first plowed the land are gone. I saw a sheep being sheared on the second day. There was some struggling from the sheep but nothing violent. I bet it was just as good for the sheep as the farmer considering it will be warm soon; life helping life. The still grow crops that they serve at the Inn here. They’re trying to go local and eco friendly I suppose. But it gives the place continued purpose too. It isn’t just a drop off point for tourists. The Shakers were known as excellent breeders in spite of their celibacy so they were known to sell animals off to to improve the local stock. I suppose thats pretty ironic, I wonder if they saw it.

Theres a dirt road that runs right through the middle of the village, it makes it seem like a carriage wouldn’t be out of place. There are houses and building on either side of this road, the buildings the Shakers lived and worked in. This used to be a mjor county road.  It was the main road out of Harrodsburd, a sizeable city. So even though they liked some seperation from the world the Shakers weren’t hermits, probably needed the road to help sell goods, and maybe a passerby might think to join. You never know? They got converts somehow.  Even though there ar some tourists walking around, he roa helps keep yu in the 19th century along with all the other landmarks.

In every village they built a “meeting house” right in the middle of town. Big enough to fit the town and bare enough to give them rooom to circle and dance around in case “The Spirit” took them. A simple wood floor with a set place to sit around the outside for outsiders to watch, and movable benches on the floor for the Believers to use. Two windows one on each side for the Elders to watch it.  This was the heart of the town.

Almost every building has two doors outside and two staircases inside, for each gender to use. All the “Brothers” slept on one side, the “Sisters” on the other.  The furnishings ar simple, very sturdy though. I understand why they were known for them.

“Put your hands to work and your hearts to God” thats what Mother Anne said. If they did anything less than obey that to the fullest you’d be hard-pressed to find it. They were known for furniture and crops and worked hard. They made brooms and buckets and sold garden seeds. The houses they left don’t seem likely to give out soon probably because as much work went into them as everything else. How can you fail to admire that spirit? Who wouldn’t want their work to be a form of worship? Don’t we all wish we could care that much and be that driven in our work?

Heard the Shaker music, it was simple but nice. I saw the Center Family House (I’m staying in the East Family house) it had exhibits preservations of the lives the lived. The hand built desks they wrote all their records on, something they were extremely good at.  I saw the beds they slept on and the medicinal garden they used. When it came to work and medicine the Shakers were very practical, they didn’t like things ornate, but they never shied away from things that made work easier or worked better.

If you read the fiction a hard line is taken against the Shakers for their celibacy.  But this is at least a little unfair. Nathanial Hawthorne spoke of Shakers as lifeless and said their villages were like graves. I don’t see that here. I see that this was where good people worked, depended on each other, and lived together. In an odd way? Yes. It is not a way I would have lived, but there is nothing cruel or ghoulish about it. They fed they poor, kept the needy, and were free to leave as they wished.

I enjoyed my time in Pleasant Hill, it was calm and i learned and saw the remains of a group of people I wish I could know better. I woke up to sheep instead of cars and trains. I saw a place with history and lived there a few days. Somebody tried to build utopia in Kentucky, and I saw what was left of it.

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