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The Minister’s Musings

This November has me looking ahead to November 2020 – the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth Harbor (or should we spell it the original way – Plimoth?). There are many activities being planned in both Plymouth and Boston to commemorate the anniversary. The Congregational Library in Boston and the NACCC are already abuzz with activity that looks back on the events and people who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to, for them, an uncharted foreign land.

It has me pondering the courage and faith those ancestors must have possessed. They each had one very small trunk that had to carry all their possessions – clothes, cooking utensils, linens, weapons, tools, books, and anything cherished. It was a far cry from the PODS and Storage Units we might use today to store our overflow “stuff”. They left knowing they would probably never see family members again who were left behind.

There were 103 passengers and an estimated 30 crew members aboard the Mayflower. Five people did not survive the voyage. Yet, it was the winter spent on the ship in Plymouth Harbor that took the greatest toll. It is thought that 45 passengers and half the crew died that winter aboard the ship. Some individuals, some of whom were children, found themselves the only person in their family to survive. The remains of those passengers were eventually buried in unmarked graves on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth.

For the native peoples who already lived in North America, the arrival of this group brought disease and a destabilization of the tribes living in the area. Not all the native tribes trusted the new settlers and this brought unrest among the tribes themselves. Yet, after the first fall harvest, the Pokanoket tribe shared a meal of deer, various vegetables like pumpkin, and seafood with those living in the Plymouth Colony. Sorry, no turkey or mashed potatoes were at that first feast! History is never quite as simple as we once thought.

Yet, the idea of thankfulness still hovers over the holiday. We all have something to be thankful for in the grand scheme of life. Our life may not look as we’d hoped or imagined but life is still a gift with all its challenges and joys. Will you have someone to share a holiday meal? If so, as you look around your table, are you grateful for those with whom you are sharing this meal? Do the foods served remind you of a time long ago or of family close at hand? If not sharing the holiday with others, how do you plan on recalling the day’s history?

In the overall history of the earth, 400 years is but a blink of a moment. Yet, for those of us who stand upon the shoulders of those brave women and men who crossed the ocean, it is a time to reflect upon and cherish and learn from. It is also a time for us to look ahead and reflect upon what we hope to leave to future generations who will look upon our complex lives and decisions from their perspective in life. We each do the best we can with the opportunities we have before In that, those 103 people were no different.

I hope this holiday brings you a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude for all we have before us. As we move from Thanksgiving to Advent we will have the opportunity to challenge ourselves to be more than we believe we can be at any given time. God’s Spirit hovers over us just as it did that small group who traveled the ocean. And for that we should always be thankful.

Take care of yourselves and each other. And, as always, let’s keep each other in prayer.

God’s Blessings and Peace
Rev. Carrie Orlando