Wednesday, June 21, 2006

When we set out to do something, does it ever happen as we expected? Going to the grocery store, do we only stick the listed items? Ok, that's maybe a bad analogy for the voyage of the pilgrims on the Mayflower, but I'm trying here. Imagine setting out for a new world, still vastly undiscovered and certainly unreliable.

When he later wrote about the voyage of the Mayflower, Bradford devoted only a few paragraphs to describing a passage that lasted more than two months. The physical and psychological punishment endured by the passengers in the dark and dripping 'tween decks was compounded by the terrifying lack of information they possessed concerning their ultimate destination. All they knew for certain was that if they did somehow succeed in crossing this three-thousand-mile stretch of ocean, no one-except perhaps for some hostile Indians-would be there to greet them.

I may not have agreed with their religion, but those on the Mayflower had conviction like I've never known. Their voyage to America was supposed to be the great beginning of a life of religious freedom. Basically kicked out of England at the beginning of the 17th Century for their reformist views on the Church, the English Separatists found refuge in Leiden, Holland. After nearly 12 years in Holland, they were beginning to wear out their welcome. Next stop America.

Young William Bradford was one of the first men of the congregation to sign up for the voyage. However, Bradford and his wife Dorothy, decided to leave their son John in Holland, presumably with her family. It would have been a dangerous passage and then the settlement would be another terrible ordeal. I don't know if William and Dorothy were right in leaving their son behind, but I want to find out.

Now reading:
Nathaniel Philbrick Mayflower
Jeanette Winters Lighthousekeeping

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