These photographs document the strength and perseverance of the community known as Sabbathday Lake or Chosen Land, the last active Shaker community in the world. Life here seems to progress unaltered or with only incremental change. I can feel the natural weight of that continuity and take great comfort in it. A sense of purpose remains steadfastly in place. When I visit the Shakers and partake of their daily rituals, I feel the presence of grace. Within this sense of grace there is a clear divine influence and - more importantly - a quiet, unobtrusive moral strength. Perhaps this is what Mother Ann Lee, the founder of the American Shakers, called "the inner spirit."
Maybe the Shakers have it right and always have. A life of purpose, simplicity, beauty, and devotion to a female/male god. A life of harmony within. A life lived in a state of grace.
In 1849 John Ruskin defined the seven lamps of Architecture as:
These also mirror the values of the Shakers