While the Pilgrims (originally from Notingham) now in Scrooby, were learning to survive in Holland, other settlers from England had already arrived in the new land that was now called Virginia (the entire Eastern Seaboard) Folks were setting up shop in Jamestown by now as well. It was rough. And things weren’t going as planned. At one point, out of supplies and exhausted, the homesteaders gave up, loaded up the ships and begrudgingly began their return to England.
At the very moment they released the boats from shore, Lord De la War came around the corner, into the mouth of the river, with fully loaded supply ships. Heading right for them. The hand of God was acknowledged by all. Lord De La War exited his ship, bowed in prayer, and then walked immediately to the chapel those exiting settlers had built, (which ironically, along with the other existing buildings, had not been burned prior to their departure–as was custom) and so… they gave thanks.
Meanwhile, back in Holland, the Pilgrims now in Scrooby, were preparing to finally set sail for the New World. Their destination was supposed to be the Hudson River. (The area now known to us as Manhattan.)
Due to weather and tides, after two attempts they realized landing as planned was not meant to be. They simply acknowledged fate and wound up very north of their intended destination. A place we now call Plymouth, in what is today Massachusetts. (outside of the legal boundaries of their Company Contract)
A little known fact is that during the two years before this unintentional landing, small pox had wiped out almost all of the Indians on that very Massachusetts shoreline. hmmmmm Interesting.
It was now nearing winter. The ship-weary pilgrims were sick from the journey. And the only thing greeting them when they did land was sand — and the coming snow. No buildings. No food. So, they begged the Mayflower to stay for the winter in order to provide them food and lodging. The Captain and crew were not happy, but finally agreed.
Many of these poor souls died within the months that followed. By the next fall, only about 53 remained and were present when they did finally gather together to give thanks to God who had brought them to a region they hadn’t planned on. And an area cleared out for them ahead of time.
As they were now legally outside of the geographical area that had been specifically outlined in their Company contract, they were unexpectedly finding themselves a people on their own. Free. Without a formal, written law. And that my friends…is how the Mayflower Compact came to be. They needed some form of government, and because of circumstances beyond their control, were now completely on their own and rightfully in a position to create one.
Interesting how delays, complications and unexpected diversions can, if we allow them, become the very blessings for which we end up giving thanks.
May you give thanks this season. And too, may we remember.
God Bless.