Greetings fellow Pilgrims – travelers all are we through many a season from the Good Lord’s hands. In want and plenty, famine and feast, season passes to season – each fulfilling His Story in the earth!
And, we still praise Jehovah for our God is good!
Mistress Kate with you, once again, to pick up my tale ‘ere I left off at the port of Plimoth, England, on the sixth day of September in the year of our Lord, 1620, where we bid farewell to our kith and kin, to embark upon a journey most perilous as it is wonderful. After receiving the King’s charter to establish a new colony in America, we rejoiced at the Lord’s provision of ship and goods for the journey. The King was glad to be rid of us – and likewise – we of the King!
Our ship, she be titled the Mayflower, but we first knew her as “The Sweet Ship” . . .
“The ship had never carried passengers. She was a freighter, rather old and tired after more than fourteen years of running taffeta and satins from Hamburg, hats and hemp to Norway, wine and cognac from France. Thanks to the wine, she was called a ‘sweet ship’ – her hold full of pleasant odors, in contrast to the foul fumes that rose from similar ships of the day.”One Small Candle, Chapter 1by Thomas J. Fleming, 1963The Sweet Ship
The sweetness of the Mayflower was short lived, I daresay, since taking on 102 passengers in addition to a crew of 30, with a goodly amount of furnishings, books, animals, guns, tools, building supplies, and food for the two month journey, in addition to stores to be used upon arrival at our Virginia destination. The stench became most foul, indeed.
Our superabundance of passengers was largely accounted for by the failure of our sister ship, the Speedwell – who, in fact, did not speed well at all. With half our party and belongings aboard this ship, it began to take on water once out to sea. We, on the Mayflower, had to take on all the passengers and as many supplies as could be stowed – thus an overcrowded condition barely tolerable for the short term, yet to be endured some sixty days hence!
Such conditions were not the least of an eventful voyage. As with any oceanic venture, storms are inevitable, and, to wit, halfway through our journey a great storm blew up upon the sea.
With much effort the crew sought to keep us safe below decks while weathering the worst of it. Good John Howland, one of our brothers, became so over-wrought in the foulness of the swaying vessel and pungent odors, he could bare it no longer. Sneaking up onto the deck for fresh air – storm, wind, and rain, notwithstanding – he relished but a moment of freedom before being swept overboard in a gust and wave of water. In the sweeping, he had the wit to take hold of a strong rope and held on for dearest life. Being thrust about along the side of the ship, clinging to the rope, he prayed fervently to the Lord and cried out – for a full twenty minutes – before sighted by sailors and retrieved with much gladness and glory unto the Lord, his Savior.
The storm had been fierce. And, damaging. The main beam was cracked – and, it appeared all would be lost. The Captain despaired of repair at sea until our Pilgrim brothers brought to his attention the providence of our printing press, which possessed the very thing meet for the task – a great giant screw – to brace up and hold the beam in place until landing. Once again, the Lord shewed forth His faithfulness and providential care for His people.
And, we still praise Jehovah for our God is good!
After sixty-six days at sea – two times longer than Christopher Columbus’ expedition – land was in sight! We would soon be in the company of brother Englishmen and the comforts of a sister colony who would assist us in establishing our own. However, our revelry at such a thought was short lived. The Captain informed us that the severity of the storm at sea had blown us off course – northerly – off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
Immediately we beckoned to set sail south to Virginia, but he would have none of it. With the repairs that were to be made and the dwindling provisions – not to mention that we had arrived on the ninth of November – winter would be upon us and the cold made further sea travel impossible.
Now, you might think these difficulties would deter us from our quest, or mayhaps, question the wisdom of God to have brought us this far just to let us fall. But, faith prevailed and through prayer we saw a greater plan from the Father’s gracious hand. A new colony – a new work – we would establish ourselves here in Cape Cod, Massachusetts – the Lord blessing our effort!
A party of our men took a smaller boat to explore the land and discovered a cove that opened onto a land most desirable. It was as though the Lord had already done the clearing of the land and made it ready for building, farming, and bustling village.* There were signs that humans may have inhabited this cleared land most recently, but there was naught left of them. Whoever they had been, they were no more.
And, so, it was decided. Our party would disembark upon this new land and christen it Plimoth Plantation in honor of the port from which he set out from in England. However, being that we would be under our own government and not that of the established Virginia colony, our leaders made a world changing decision – though, at the time, we had no idea of the future impact of our actions. Elder William Brewster has this moment come from a meeting with our leaders in the Great Cabin on the ship and announced the plan. It is to be called, The Mayflower Compact:
“It was thought good there should be an association or agreement, that we should combine together in one body; and submit to such government and governors as we should by common consent, agree to make and choose; and set our hands to this . . . we covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation . . .”
Oops! Mistress Kate has been called away to help with the unloading of supplies and furnishings as she and her Pilgrim brothers and sisters set about the rigors of moving ashore to the Lord’s land provision.
But, before heading ashore, forty-one male passengers, representing a total of one hundred persons, their wives and children, signed the Mayflower Compact. This was to become the very first constitutional document in our nation and was representative of the Christian conscience of self-government – being governed by Jesus Christ in our hearts from the inside, making for the limited needs of government by men on the outside.
THE MAYFLOWER COMPACTIn ye name of God, Amen, we whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by ye Grace of God, of Great Britian, France, and Ireland, kind, defender of ye faith and having undertaken for ye glory of God and advancements of ye Christian faith, in honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant ye first colony in ye northern parts of Virginia, do by these presence solemnly and mutually in ye presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, on the 11th day of November, 1620. Amen!
And . . . does the story end here?
ARE YOU KIDDING???
Copyright Kathryn Ross, 2011 – taken from my original performance material and primary sources of the writings of William Bradford’s and William Brewster’s personal first hand accounts.
Sharing Thanksgiving Part 3: Mayflower Memoirs today with
Laura on Faith Filled Friday at Missional Women
Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays
Janis on Sunday Stillness at He Cares for You
Barbie on Weekend Brew at My Freshly Brewed Life
Beverly’s Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound
Don’t miss all the story installments on Thanksgiving – by Kathryn Ross:
Thanksgiving Part 1: The Story Begins