The first Thanksgiving was an important celebratory event, but it was neither the beginning nor the end of the story.
We know the story began in Europe, largely England, with a group of people known as Separatists. They wanted to distance themselves from what they perceived as the moral decline of society in their day and, in particular, the Church of England led by the King. Some were known as Puritans because they wanted to purify the church.
The Separatists were considered dangerous. Their beliefs made them subject to arrest. In their first attempt to leave England for Holland, all of their money and personal belongings were seized by militia.
After years of false starts and disappointments, two ships were finally supposed to leave for America. But the Speedwell began to take on water and was forced to return to port. Additional Separatists and some non-separatists crowded onto the tiny Mayflower. They totaled 30 crew and 102 passengers, basically living in 2250 square feet of undivided space. The 102 passengers had to stay below deck for 66 days with essentially 20 square feet of personal space each. There was absolutely no privacy and great sickness. A baby was born enroute and one person was swept overboard during severe storms.
The Mayflower was blown far off course, ending up in Plymouth, MA, hundreds of miles north of where they intended to land and right at the beginning of winter. They rushed to build houses for themselves in freezing weather but the majority of the settlers did not survive the first 6 months. 55 settlers and 15 crew members died by the following spring. The Separatists and the other voyagers had a vision for themselves and their families. They were looking for freedom and opportunity. They knew there were great risks, including death. Their fervent desire overcame their fear. And at tremendous cost, a colony and a new way of life were born.
This Thanksgiving, we celebrate their vision, their tremendous sacrifice, and their success, as well as the bonds they forged with indigenous inhabitants of this great land.
But the story is not over.
It is our birthright and calling to continue to pursue freedom and opportunity; to remain unshackled by the government of our day. Their example at Plymouth also teaches us to reach out and forge relationships with others in our community who may not look or speak like us.
Thanksgiving is a day of remembrance, a day to pause and truly count our blessings. It is also a day to recommit to preserving those blessings – personally, within our families, and within the larger community. In a sense, each of us is guiding our own Mayflower into the future. May God’s grace and blessings be with you and your family this Thanksgiving Holiday.
Your fellow sojourners at Green Pro Solutions.