On the first Thanksgiving – Part I

 The Mayflower Pilgrims, leaving behind their homeland for a “whole New Wo-o-o-orld…*”

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The Scribe is about to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage of his own, of a type noted in On “St. James the Greater”.  It could last two weeks or more and – to cut to the chase – that means he won’t be doing a new post until he gets back, some time before the Feast Day of Thanksgiving.  So this ode to the original Thanksgiving – and its full meaning – will be a two-parter.

For the full Thanksgiving-day Bible readings, see Thanksgiving Day, which includes this from the Collect:  “Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them.”   The first reading for the day continues that theme and is from the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 8:7-18.  It begins like this:

Moses said to all Israel:  For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing

(Emphasis added.)   But of course we all know things are never that simple.

See for example the site, Freedom isn’t free – Wikipedia, about the “popular American idiom, used widely in the United States to express gratitude to the military for defending personal freedoms…   [T]he freedoms enjoyed by many citizens in many democracies are only possible through the risks taken and sacrifices made by those in the military.”  But see also Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty (Quotation), attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

These days that could also mean taking full heed of Proverbs 4:27   Do not turn to the right or the left.  See also The Ultimate Meaning of the Middle Way and Centrism – Wikipedia:

But we digress…

We were talking about the First-ever Thanksgiving.  It was celebrated by the Mayflower Pilgrims, who – after a rough trip across the North Atlantic – first set foot on land on November 11,1620.

Here’s the timeline.  Before it set sail for the New World (disambiguation), the Mayflower was docked at SouthamptonHampshire, waiting to hook up with a smaller ship, Speedwell.   Speedwell sailed over from Holland and met up with Mayflower, and both ships left for America on what we would call August 15, 1620.  (See “Old Style” on the differences in dating.)

Unfortunately Speedwell proved unseaworthy, so both ships had to put in at Dartmouth, Devon, meaning they got about 90 or 100 miles at sea – “as the crow flies” from Southhampton – before stopping for repairs.  (It’s 149 miles by road.)  At the harbor in Dartmouth, Speedwell was “inspected for leaks and sealed, but a second attempt to depart also failed, bringing them only so far as Plymouth, Devon.”  (Meaning on their second try they made about 31 miles by road, but a bit more than that around Start Point, Devon – Wikipedia and the South Devon coast.)

So at that point the group ended up selling the smaller ship and transferring as many of its passengers and goods as possible to Mayflower, which then had to go it alone.

Incidentally, Plymouth in England is the present-day site of the Mayflower Steps, “the spot close to the site … from which it is believed the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for North America in 1620.  The Mayflower Steps are flanked by the British and American flags and mark the final English departure point … from which the Pilgrim Fathers are believed to have finally left England aboard the Mayflower, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to settle in North America on 6 September 1620.”  See Mayflower Steps – Historic Site in Plymouth and Mayflower Steps – Wikipedia.  It also provided the name of the spot where – according to tradition – the Pilgrims first landed in America.  See Plymouth Rock – Wikipedia.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  To get back on track, Mayflower left Plymouth – alone – on or about September 6, 1620.  The crew and passengers had before them some 65 days of sailing the North Atlantic, and at first there was nothing but smooth sailing…

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The upper image is courtesy of Pilgrim Fathers – Wikipedia, with the caption, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims (1857) by the American painter Robert Walter Weir at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.”

The lower image is courtesy of Mayflower Collection – Mike Haywood’s Artwork – Mayflower HMS, with the caption, “A prosperous wind  The Mayflower leaving English shores.”   The home-page of the site notes “Mike Haywood has a growing International reputation as a marine and portrait painter.  He has a Doctorate in Oceanography and loves painting rough or lively seas.  He has a Doctorate in Oceanography and loves painting rough or lively seas.  Each painting is painstakingly researched to ensure accuracy.”   The site’s “Mayflower Collection” includes more images of the voyage.   (Note that the lower image shows Speedwell in the background, indicating that is shows either the first or the second attempt to reach the New World.)

The asterisk –  “*” –  signifies, “with a nod to the song by that name in the movie Aladdin.”  See Aladdin – A whole new world [Lyrics] – YouTube.  See also Aladdin – A Whole New World Lyrics, including:  “A whole new world, A new fantastic point of view, No one to tell us no, Or where to go…  Unbelievable sights, Indescribable feeling, Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling, Through an endless diamond sky…”  All of which could describe the feelings of any pilgrim setting out for any “new world,” before reality sets in and the real work begins…

See also Cut to the chase – Wikipedia, which explained that the phrase meaning “to get to the point without wasting time” originated from early silent films.

The article Centrism – Wikipedia indicated that Americans today are fed up with the political status quo and are looking for a “New Political Center,” intermixing liberal instincts and conservative values; “tolerant traditionalists” who believe in “conventional social morality that ensure family stability,” while being “tolerant within reason” of those who challenge such traditional morality, “and as pragmatically supportive of government intervention in spheres such as education, child care, health care as long as budgets are balanced.”  See also On Jesus: Liberal or Fundamentalist?

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