A while back I read Vernon Heaton’s The Mayflower and was reminded once again about the importance of giving thanks, regardless of our circumstances. Heaton chronicles the Pilgrim’s sixty-four day voyage as follows: “As the days drew into weeks, the weather steadily deteriorated: gale force winds blew up and the sea rose until the Mayflower found herself in the middle of a series of fierce storms. Below deck, the air grew stale, fetid and vitiated. Attempts to relieve the stench and drive out the stale air by opening the scuttles and hatches were frustrated by the rush of seawater that soaked the bedding, clothing and the bodies of the passengers. Seasickness broke out again and in the dank, stuffy … passenger holds, conditions became almost intolerable.”
About 18 years ago during a visit to Plymouth, MA, I had the good fortune to tour the Mayflower II. Obviously, the Mayflower II is a reproduction but if memory serves me, the ship builders made every effort to build a faithful reproduction. I still have vivid memories about how little space there was below deck; it was nearly impossible to stand upright and not knock your head on a beam. I can only imagine how fowl the air must have become below deck with with 102 Pilgrims living below.
Finally on November 9, 1620 “land ahoy” was called and the road trip from hell was nearly over. The Mayflower’s intended destination was the mouth of the Hudson River in New York State but the unrelenting storms had driven the ship far north. With winter upon them, the decision was made to find a suitable location to build winter quarters, finally on December 11th, the Pilgrims disembarked in what is now Plymouth, MA.
William Bradford, who was later chosen by the Pilgrims to be their first governor described their arrival as follows: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. They had now no friends to welcome them, nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather beaten bodies, no houses or much less towns to repair to …..” Still, they all gave thanks!
As Thanksgiving approaches, if you have a roof over your head and your biggest worry is whether you turkey is organic or if it lived its life as a free range bird, then you have sufficient for which to give thanks. The older I get, the more I realize that life is more or less a matter of perspective, so lets all give thanks for what we have, regardless of how little it might be!