Sunday, November 19, 2006

Doors of Thanksgiving

They didn't have a door to welcome them home. Not even a door.

So I'm reading this book about the years leading up to the first Thanksgiving. (You know, the first "official" one... in 1621.) I was reading of how these people... these normal, every day folks... walked aboard a boat and set sail with the collective dream of living and worshiping their God in freedom and truth. I've read it all before. We all have. It's the Thanksgiving story.

But I'm reading along, considering the Pilgrims' horrible voyage, and a black and white picture dances into my mind. It's odd. I suppose I've always had this mental picture of dirty, poorly-clothed Pilgrims sliding around inside a dirty, leaky Mayflower, hudling together and singing hymns. (You can almost see them there, eating bug-infested food and wishing for a bath and fighting back tears as they prepared to toss yet another of their dead overboard.) But then... but then... they landed at Plymouth. Finally! Home.

Only... it really wasn't. Their home was across the ocean. The picture I viewed in my mind was like a crackly, black and white reel that watched as these men and women silently clamored out of their leaky ship in time to see nothing but water behind them and dead overgrowth before them. I've been to Plymouth Rock. That shore is desolate. I mean, the Pilgrims were home, but... not. There was no front door to walk through. No floor to crash on. No leftover stuffing to look forward to.

I can't imagine. No front doors. No homes. Where were they to sleep? According to history, William Bradford wrote that on November 11, 1620, when the Pilgrims finally dropped anchor at Plymouth, he "stood half amazed at this poor people's present condition,... Being thus past the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles.... they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bodies. What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?"

Indeed, what could?

This week, we'll all be thinking of what we're grateful for. So I'll tell you: I'm grateful for the doors in my life. The door (pictured above) that leads into the kitchen at Freeman House. The door at my folks' house. The door at my job and grocery store. The door of my church. And maybe, too, the door God opened to allow these normal, every day men and women to seek a door-less greeting on those desolate Plymouth shores.

By the way, I should add that William Bradford went on to write about the Pilgrim's landing that cold November day. He said that after they tumbled off the Mayflower - with not a single door in sight - "...they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth."

I pray for blessings on the doors in your life. Happy Thanksgiving! B

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