While the Pilgrims from Scrooby (Notingham) were learning to survive in Holland, other settlers from England had already arrived in the land of Virginia (the entire Eastern Seaboard) and were setting up shop in Jamestown. It was rough. And things weren’t going as planned. At one point, out of supplies and exhausted, they loaded up the ships and began their return to England. At the very moment they released from shore, Lord De la War came around the corner, into the mouth of the river, with full loaded supply ships. The Hand of God was acknowledged. Lord De La War exited his ship, bowed in prayer, and walked immediately to the chapel, (which ironically, along with the other existing buildings, had not been burned before the settlers’ departure, as was custom) and they gave thanks.
Meanwhile, back in Holland, the Scrooby Pilgrims were preparing to set sail to the New World. Their destination was to be The Hudson River. The area now known as Manhattan.
Due to weather and tides, after two attempts they realized it was not meant to be. They acknowledged fate and wound up north of their intended landing spot. A place we now call Plymouth, in what is today Massachusetts.
A little known fact is that during the two years prior to their unintentional landing, the small pox had wiped out almost ALL of the indians on that Massachusetts shoreline area. Interesting.
It was now nearing winter. They were sick from the journey. And the only thing greeting them was sand and the coming snow. No buildings. No food. They begged the Mayflower to stay for the winter in order to sustain them with food and lodging. The Captain and crew grudgingly agreed.
Many died within the months that followed. By the next fall. only about 53 remained and were present when they gathered together to give thanks to the God who had brought them to a region they hadn’t planned on, cleared out the area ahead of time for them, and sustained what few had survived not only the voyage but that first horrifc winter.
Outside the geographical area outlined in their Company contract, they were now a people on their own, without a formal, written law. That is how the Mayflower Compact came to be. They needed some form of governement, and ironically, they were now completely on their own, and free, to create one.
Interesting how delays, complications and unexpected diversions can, if we allow them, become the very unexpected blessings for which we can end up giving thanks.
May you give thanks this season. And too, may we remember.
God Bless.