Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pilgrimage, Gratitude And William Bradford's Thanksgiving Gift To You

To the surprise of no one, I am a big fan of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, something I anticipate and cherish and embrace every year for the powerful reminder it is and the beautiful virtue of gratitude around which the whole season revolves.

I spend far too much money on the 2 wick jars of Pumpkin Spice Yankee candles.  I stuff more people in my house on that special day than is reasonable.  I sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" to myself over and over.  (That hymn seems pilgrimish, but I'm not sure if they sang it or not...it's likely though, Protestants to the core that they were).

You might have figured out, given the title of this blog and many of the topics I've written on over the years, that the pilgrimage of Christ followers to our true homeland, one we've never been to before, is a central theme of my life.  It is hard for me to overstate how life with Jesus, in the here and now, but especially in the life to come, is my primary motivation.  I stumble, flail and foul up, but the thirst for the Kingdom remains...

And so it was for the pilgrims of Plymouth.  They recognized  that this world was not their home. Understood, they had some weird ideas and culturally foreign religious ways.  But I wish I had half the strength and sinew of that battered band.  I vacation on Cape Cod...many of them starved there.  I get seasick in the bathtub; they spent 66 days at sea sailing straight into a monstrous winter.  I say I trust God with a basement chock full of non perishables; they gave thanks after making it through a winter where 40 colonists dropped dead of disease and malnourishment.

I want so very much for my heart to be like the pilgrims'.  I want to shout out thanks for every blessing, and thanks for every difficulty.  I am not that woman, not yet.  That's what the pilgrim road is all about for all of us.  We are given a stretch of time to love God, love others, and be changed by His grace.  The act of giving thanks is a strong ally in the pursuit of becoming more gracious.

Below is my little gift to you all for Thanksgiving. It's a poem we read here in on that wonderful day, when my heart explodes with the joy of gratitude.  Really, shouldn't it be like that every day?

This poem was written by William Bradford, described as "a Mayflower Pilgrim, Governor and Historian of the Plymouth colony, and devout Christian."

From my years young in days of youth,

God did make known to me his truth,

And call'd me from my native place
For to enjoy the means of grace.
In wilderness he did me guide,
And in strange lands for me provide.
In fears and wants, though weal and woe,
A pilgrim, past I to and fro:
Oft left of them whom I did trust;
How vain it is to rest on dust!
A man of sorrows I have been,
And many changes I have seen.
Wars, wants, peace, plenty, have I known;
And some advanc'd, others thrown down.
The humble poor, cheeful and glad;
Rich, discontent, sower and sad:
When fears and sorrows have been mixt,
Consolations came betwixt.
Faint not, poor soul, in God still trust,
Fear not the things thou suffer must;
For, whom he loves he doth castise,
And then all tears wipes from their eyes.
Farewell, dear children, whom I love,
Your better Father is above:
When I am gone, he can supply;
To him I leave you when I die.
Fear him in truth, walk in his ways,
And he will bless you all your days.
My days are spent, old age is come,
My strength it fails, my glass near run:
Now I will wait, when work is done,
Until my happy change shall come,
When from my labours I shall rest,
With Christ above for to be blest.

Your grateful friend on the pilgrim road,


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