2003-11-28 - Learning from the Pilgrims
Those of us in America are in the midst of our annual Thanksgiving celebration. At this time of year, we hear a lot about a group of settlers commonly known here as the Pilgrims, who moved here for many reasons, from religious freedom to the opportunity to earn a living on their own terms, and some to start over in a new life. Part of what we read / see / hear is true; part is mythological. And like ourselves and our own leaders, they were not perfect.(Even Billy Graham has lamented that he should have been a better father.) But from the true history of these ancestors of many of us, we are reminded of a vital lesson.
I think Thanksgiving Day can be a wonderful holiday; I myself enjoy it immensely. As some have pointed out, it's not as commercialized as Christmas. It's a day when many of us focus on thanking our Lord for our blessings, enjoying the love and presence of family and friends, and sharing with those who don't have as much of the material goods of this world In our city, there is a huge outpouring of assistance in feeding the homeless, providing free phone calls for a day, medical care etc.
But our forefathers and foremothers didn't limit Thanksgiving Day to once a year! Rather, they had many celebrations. As I was reminded by a recent "New York Times" article (11-27-2003), for example, in 1749 there was a Day of Thanksgiving for the refreshing rain which ended a long drought. Later there was another Thanksgiving Day after an earthquake in Boston. And following in their footsteps - as for the men to whom we in the US owe our independence - after trudging through snow-sometimes with no shoes, losing their family and friends to the war that would ensure (among other things) our ability to worship in the church of our choice, their leader (George Washington) declared a Day of Thanksgiving simply to celebrate the fact that they were still alive.
What about us? We could have our own Days of Thanksgiving. What would you celebrate? The fact that you still have a job (albeit not a perfect one) when many have been laid off? The love of family and friends? The gift of life after a difficult illness or injury? The lack of injury after an annoying "fender bender?" I have so much for which to be thankful, that I could probably have a Day of Thanksgiving 365 days per year! I challenge you, along with myself, to have more personal days of thanksgiving.