The Shakers believed that they received their arts as gifts from the spiritual world. Persons who strove to become receptive of songs, dances, paintings, and so forth were said to be “laboring for a gift,” and the works that they created circulated as gifts within the community. Shaker artists were known as “instruments”; we know only a few of their names, for in general it was forbidden that they be known to any but the church elders.
laboring for a gift
these poems, where
do they come from?
they pour through
from the unseen—
startle and surprise
the poet perhaps
more than the reader
that’s the delight
the jolt, the awe
when the poet
shows up every dawn
ready to listen
prepared to receive
the flow increases—
every day? people ask
that’s the laboring
the gift is
being in service
2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—not final versions.
8 thoughts on “laboring for a gift”
I like the poem and love the history of the Shakers, that you shared.
Thanks for telling me!
What an interesting submission today about the Shakers. I have studied a bit about them for my own writing. Thanks for this gem.
Thank you! I was thrilled when I found that information about them.
Yes. it occurred to me the other day that poetry is an art form that is often more a gift to the writer than the reader.
This daily practice is certainly a gift to myself as well! But I think it’s true of all art forms. Thanks for commenting.
This message resonates so much with me, as in the recent past I have a much more established listening practice, in the deep quiet of the resting household, these precious hours devoted only to clearing, opening, receiving. The gifts are both singular and myriad – one light, many reflections.
Much love and thank you for sharing the fruits and rhythm of your labors with us.
I am so touched by your response, Ellah. Thank you for writing me. You have found a deep gift in being laid low. Your listening aids us all. Thank you. Much love, Amrita