Shaker furniture has long been admired as functional art....
... But for the Shaker community, such beauty as is found in their wood-craft was not simply art for art’s sake. Design, quality of work, function and sturdiness were all part of a spiritual practice to embody their theology and spirituality in what they created, even in the most pragmatic product for the household. From wall peg to chair, cupboard to table, the Shaker community’s understanding of God’s symmetry and their own priority for spiritual balance were embodied in each wood product in the home. So also was their spirituality incarnate in the overall number and placement of furniture within the home design. A crowded and disorderly home, or a home filled with impractical and non-beautiful works, was not a witness to the deep religious values that permeated every part of their lives. On the other hand, detailed symmetry and elegant simplicity were markers for a deep and abiding faithfulness.
If you are a carpenter, perhaps it is a worthy endeavor to consider how your abiding spirituality can be expressed in each piece you create, each table or bench you build, each picture-frame you craft, each chair or door that comes from your shop. What will other folks begin to learn about your life and spirituality from the works that are built by your hands? How can the beauty of each meticulous joint, each silken smooth surface, each stain-enhanced grain become like a witness to the grace and joy and peace that Spirit bestows upon all of creation?
See Mark Whitley’s work as an example at: