When I think about the pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth Rock I am drawn down memory lane to our visit to the fabulous Plimouth Plantation. https://www.plimoth.org (A wonderful trip for families!) Although we have experienced numerous living villages, the Plimouth Plantation remains my favorite. Probably because of the painful story that I am about to share.
Like most of the living history museums we have loved across the nation, artisans were employed in their trades. Farmer were caring for their sheep. Children were picking vegetables from small gardens inside the fences that surrounded the little thatched hut houses. Women were cooking over smoky fire pits. Every living museum demonstrate these events, but Plimouth Plantation takes historical reality one step farther. Each actors assumes the name and personality of a real person that actually lived at Plimouth. As a guest you are invited to interact with the residents of the tiny colony. Their response to your comments and questions are seasoned by the personality, culture and beliefs of the person they are representing. You are invited to enter the open doors of their homes and chat with them as they walk and work.Jason and Kimberly were fascinated, but not any more than I was. I was captured and intrigued by the flower bearing herbs , crooked neck squash and tiny tomatoes that grew in their yards.
Wayne and I meander through museums at different speeds, because of our different interest. Wayne lingers to watch blacksmiths or tanners, while I linger over gardens and food. My son Jason shares my love of food! Wayne took Kimberly with him, and I took Jason with me. As lunch time approached the men and children trudged through muddy paths homeward where they would eat lunch. Everyone shared my curiosity—what did they eat? How did they cook it? What would they eat it from?Wayne started inside the one roomed home and motioned for us to join him. By the time I got to the door, the door way was full. People stood on tip-toes or twisted around each other to watch the pilgrim family eat. There was no way for neither Jason or I to see anything. When I spotted a window on the other side of the tiny house, I told Jason to follow me.
And much to his chagrin, he obeyed. We stood at the window peering inside. Now we could see everything. The man sat in a simple wood chair, while his wife dipped the steaming contents from a pot and onto plates. The man looked up from us plate and out the window-straight at us. Clearly, I remember the surprise in his voice. “Oh my! We have window peepers. Proper visitors enter the door and don’t gawk at the window. Please, join us inside.”
Proper visitor? I was in my museum mode…gawking, reading and learning. I forgot I was a guest. Jason was beet red with embarrassment and at the moment I had to have been redder. Poor child, he never let me forget how badly I embarrassed him. From time to time, he’s reminded me of my etiquette blunder.
One of the mantras of the Plimouth Plantation is “They knew they were pilgrims.”
And they did. They knew they were pilgrims. They thought like pilgrims. They planned like pilgrims. They lived like pilgrims. But what made them pilgrims? It wasn’t their funny looking hats or the strange clothes they wore. Not even the foods they ate or the culture they came from. It wasn’t their religious affiliation or their lavish inheritances or their empty bellies.
It’s what they did, their journey, their search for a place where they would have the freedom to worship God that made them pilgrims. They left their homes, their relatives, their culture, their normal for God.They traveled to a strange land with strange foods, to live among people that spoke a language they didn’t understand. Their faith propelled and sustained them. Their discipline and commitment energized them. Other travelers came to this new world, but they failed. Why did the pilgrims succeed? Let’s look at the writing of George Cuthber Blaxland in his book “Mayflower” for an explanation.
And so we pause in our review of the causes by which the Pilgrim Fathers of New Plymouth were able to bring their Colony through storm and trouble to a position of stability and success, where so many failed. The causes lay in the men themselves, in their resolution, their industry, their sober self-control, their faithfulness to one another, and their maintenance of a high standard of righteousness in their dealings with their fellow-colonists and with the Indians. They succeeded because they deserved to succeed. The qualities for which we admire them and by which they deserved and won success sprang from a root which lay yet deeper. It sprang from a sincere devotion to the service of God and the belief in His sustaining power and protecting arm. The spirit of faith and of the love of God breathes in every page of our author’s manuscript (Gov. Bradford), and in this he is, we may well believe, the representative of those whose history he records. And it is this spirit which gives its Epic character to the history which he relates, for it is an Epic of the ways of God with men, of the vindication of His faithfulness to those who trust in Him. “Taken from “Mayflower” essays on the story of the Pilgrim fathers as told in Governor Bradford’s ms George Cuthbert Blaxland, John Smith (Accessed from Google Books)
Are you a pilgrim? Look with me at Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly,if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out , they might have had opportunity to have returned . 16 But now they desire a better country, that is , an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
If you are a believer—you are a pilgrim.
Think like one…live like one…believe like one.