Thank Heaven for Large Mercies

26 Nov

One day a year, we’re reminded to give thanks for all the wonderful things that have happened in our life. Although we’re tempted to remember how bad 2020 has been for us, if the Pilgrims could get over their bad times in 1621, so can we.

Imagine you’re living in a comfortable urban life in the Netherlands, you’re free to worship, maintain your own community, but you belong to what we would call today “fundamentalists.” You see your children becoming worldly, (relatively) tolerant Dutchmen, and you know that if you stay, your community will disappear in two generations. You can’t go back home to England, so someone comes up with a solution, and you jump at it.

So you get to an alien shore, and by remarkable providence (in this case, previous plague), the land is open and no one is trying to kill you for it. Here is where you realize, you don’t know how to farm. Or you do know how to farm, but Massachusetts is a completely different horticultural zone, so what you remember from temperate England doesn’t work in snowy, rocky New England. Your crops fail, you don’t know the local plants to scavenge well, but you can fish. No one knows or cares that you there. No one’s coming to rescue you. Odds are, your settlement is going to die off in the next winter.

Then comes Squanto (at least, that’s what you think his name is) to show you how you’re doing it wrong, to show you wild game in the area, and what plants are good to eat. Here is the last survivor of the tribe who’s land you’ve moved into and he does more than what is decent–he helps you survive. Not only that, he convinces the tribe next door to help you out.

So you have a big feast with things that look familiar, but are alien. Maize–it looks like corn, so let’s call it that. Pumpkins. They’re close enough to a gourd that we get the idea. And then this pheasant-like thing we’re calling a turkey. Sitting around the table with these savage-looking people who you can barely understand, but have ensured that you have enough food that you will last until the end of the next growing season. You will live… and that is the greatest thing to give thanks for.

Now, I should mention that “no good deed goes unpunished,” but to be fair, it wasn’t the people at the feast who caused the Pequot War… it was the cousins of those Pilgrims who came in the second wave a year later that decided that the Indians had to go. But instead of going down that rabbit hole, just understand that simple act of thankfulness. Having a feast when you were about to starve to death. Not being able to go to the local bar for a month pales in comparison.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Maybe tomorrow, I should write out what I’m thankful for, but for now, feel free to comment what you like.

One Response to “Thank Heaven for Large Mercies”

  1. iFlyMSP November 26, 2020 at 2:22 pm #

    There’s always something to be thankful for, some years more than others, and EVERY year more this one. However, the results of the U.S. election turned 2020 from the worst year that I can recall (except 2013 when my 24 yo daughter died), into a year that makes me hopeful for 2021 and beyond.

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