Hospitality: Pilgrim Style

Each year in November, the children in the preschool celebrate Thanksgiving with a "feast" that brings together the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. They hear stories of the early days of this country; how the Pilgrims came to America to seek religious freedom and how they came to appreciate all the Native Americans could teach them.

First, a little history lesson to refresh your memories of the first Thanksgiving. The brave individuals who boarded the Mayflower in 1620 included 44 who called themselves the "Saints" and 66 who called themselves "Strangers". When they landed at Plymouth Rock on November 10th, one person had died on the journey and there were so many disagreements during the voyage that by the time they landed, the passengers had decided that they needed to work together if they were to survive and they established an agreement called the Mayflower Compact. The first coming together of the Pilgrims and American Indians did not happen that first November. It was three years before they came together to celebrate a much needed rain that saved the harvest. It took an Indian brave named Samoset to walk into the settlement in March of that first year and shout out "welcome" in English. Until then, the Pilgrims feared that all Indians were hostile. They were so wrong. Samoset, an Abnaki Indian, had learned English from the fishermen who sailed off the coast. Samoset introduced the Pilgrims to Squanto, who had been to England and Spain and spoke English very well. The Pilgrims survival those first three years was most definitely a result of all that Squanto had taught them: how to tap the maple tress, which plants were poisonous, and how to plant corn. On November 29th of their third year in America, the Pilgrim governor, William Bradford, declared a day of thanksgiving after the much needed rain saved the crops. Various states would establish a day of thanksgiving for the harvest, but it wasn't until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln established the national Thanksgiving Day.

We are not unlike those first settlers. We are pilgrims, "travelers", looking for a place to callPhilip Burnham home. We hope to find someone who will greet us with "welcome" and not hostility, who will share ideas that aid and enrich our lives and a community in which we can celebrate with a feast. It has been that way for over a hundred years here. And those who have been a part of this parish, even if many years ago, still recall what an impact it had on their lives. This past summer, a charming man came by with a friend who had been in his wedding 50 years ago to the day. His wife had passed away 8 years ago, but he wanted to take this pilgrimage on the occasion of his golden wedding anniversary. He wanted to see the artwork in the Children's Chapel that that his mother in law had done and donated to the parish. He shared some great stories of his wedding day here and the joy, the hospitality that he and his wife experienced.

Yes, that is who we are at Holy Comforter: welcoming the "regulars", the not so regulars, the old, the young, and the visitor just passing through. So whether you are here in town, or traveling to visit relatives, I am thankful for your presence here, your participation in this community, and I wish you a joy filled and blessed Thanksgiving.