The Shakers lived by the three C’s: celibacy, community, and confession. In 1894, Mount Lebanon Shaker Ernest Pick humorously played on these three C’s in his advice published in the Shakers’ newspaper, The Manifesto. Those who attended the “school of life,” he wrote, earned the degree of “C.C.C.” As we face the Covid-19 pandemic, we might heed Elder Ernest’s wisdom and update it for our time.
Elder Ernest’s first “C” is cool: “it is of great importance for our happiness to keep our body in good condition and working order.” We shouldn’t keep our bodies “in a more or less feverish condition, subject to contagion and disease,” but rather keep our bodies “in a pleasant, cool equilibrium.” Nutritious food, daily exercise, cleanliness: these practices remain key to health.
Calm is the second “C”: “to be calm, like a good captain during a wild storm of a strategist in a fierce battle. Self-knowledge is of great importance; next to self-control in gaining that calm mind which alone will insure our happiness.” As much as we desire to escape our quarantine, as much as we fear for our loved ones and ourselves, remaining calm is the best way that, individually and together, we will pass through this crisis.
The last “C” is comfortable, but in the first sense of the word: strong. To comfort someone requires strength to support them; to be comfortable is to be strong. For Elder Ernest, of course, comfortable meant “strong in spirit.” In his belief there was “strength that knows no weakness, victory that knows no defeat.” Today, perhaps, we would use the term resolve: to determine a course of action and keep to it for a healthier future for all.
C.C.C.: cool, calm, comfortable. Not that different from the World Health Organization’s recommendations.
We at Enfield Shaker Museum hope you stay healthy. We hope to welcome you back to Enfield Shaker Museum as soon as it’s safe for everyone. In the meantime, please tell us how you are doing, by email or through social media. We welcome your questions about the history and lives of Enfield’s Shakers. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and check our website to find new historical and educational content.
Interim Executive Director