For most of our family, Plymouth was a place to re-visit. Both children were privileged to have traveled here previously as a field study with the school, and Steven accompanied them both times. Being a homebody myself, I chose not to travel with the students, and ultimately I missed out on the priceless experience of being taught by Dayspring’s resident Pilgrim expert, third-grade teacher Mary Stauffer. My loss.
So I was the newbie here, and I looked forward to experiencing a bit of the history our family so passionately loves. Plymouth didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed every moment of every day, I listened intently to the re-enactors and experts at Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower II, as well as walking tour guide and Plymouth historical expert Leo Martin, and asked a lot of questions. I tried to imagine myself as a Pilgrim as I looked out into the harbor from Cole’s Hill, peered from the ship’s portholes and walked through the homes. All of this helped me to better understand why and how these people saw themselves as stepping stones, bringing the true Gospel to a new nation.
While it would be incredibly tedious (for you, I imagine) to list out everything I saw and learned, I want to highlight I few experiences I was privileged to have:
- I sat in a re-created Pilgrim garden in Plimoth Plantation and talked with an hysterically funny colonist, lamenting the absence of beer (they couldn’t grow enough barley for brewing) and the destruction the weasel-pigs (groundhogs) cause in his garden. “Weasel-pigs,” I lamented along with him. “We have those too.”
- I worshiped in the meeting house with my family and a colonist – I believe his last name was Bricher, or something similar. He explained to us that while he was not part of John Robinson’s congregation, he was considering joining them. He explained how the Pilgrims worshiped, and that they were kicked out of the Anglican Church for criticizing the extra-Biblical things the church leaders required them to do (rather, the hierarchy of leadership positions, the use of an additional prayer book, and the inability to commune with God directly – none of which are supported in Scripture). The Pilgrims thought the worship of God should be simple and God-focused. Goodman Bricher taught us to sing one of their favorite Psalms, Psalm 100: Sing praise to Jehovah all the earth! Indeed we did.
- I stood on Leyden Street, site of the original plantation, and gazed out into Plymouth Harbor, enjoying the same view the Pilgrims had almost 400 years ago. The harbor provided an amazing amount of protection: most of the harbor was only 1-2’ deep (now it’s federally dredged to a depth of 7-8’ to allow boats in and out) so large boats could come no closer than 1 ½ miles to shore – unfortunately this also meant that the Mayflower itself could also come no closer. In addition, there is a sandbar and another skinny land mass that extend in opposite directions across the harbor, forcing small boats to wind their way in slowly. With the fort situated high on the hill, armed with cannons from the Mayflower, any attacking forces would think twice before attempting to make landfall. Standing there and reflecting on God’s providence of security for these Pilgrims was humbling.
- I was blessed to drink fresh water from one of the many, many springs bubbling up around Town Brook. Being skeptical of any water not originating from a bottle (I’m a sorry product of my generation) I was amazed at how sweet and clean it was. These springs and brook are another example of God’s merciful providence to the Pilgrims, in that it provided for several different needs. First, it gave them fresh drinking water. Second, because the elevation of the brook drops 80’ on its way to the harbor, it came to support several mills built along its bank. These mills ground the grain families needed for flour. Third, the brook also supplied fish in abundance, many of which the Pilgrims would bury to fertilize their fields. Interestingly, the herring still swim upstream each year to spawn, so thick that for 6 weeks it’s impossible to see the bottom of the brook.
- I stood face-to-face with the Pilgrim Mother statue thinking on how, during the starving time when each Pilgrim was given only a ¼ lb. of cornbread to eat each day, mothers would give most of their portions to their children. They are also known to have covered their children to protect them from the cold, laying over them like mother birds sitting on nests. The inscription on the back of the monument is this: They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish. Do you remember when “sturdy virtue” was considered a good quality as well as a compliment? I don’t either.
- I stood in the shadow of the Forefather’s Monument, amazed first by its sheer size. Later, as we slowly walked around pointing out and discussing each element – Faith, Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty – I was struck at how we, as a collective nation, have rejected each of God’s laws and His plans, how we have refused to govern ourselves, how we’ve looked to sinful men to lead us rather than following God Himself, how we’ve turned our children over to the State to be filled with an empty, God-hating education, and ultimately how we’ve turned over our liberty in exchange for slavery.
As I’ve said earlier, I truly did enjoy each and every moment of my time spent in Plymouth, and I look forward to returning. As I reflect on that time, however, I am left with a profound sadness having realized that we are in grave danger of losing what the Lord has so providentially provided. There’s clear evidence that God, in His mercy, provided us with the gift of a great nation and a firm foundation. Four hundred years later our society has largely rejected His gift, as well as His laws, and even rejected God Himself. Indeed, we’ve become a nation of whiny, petulant children, desiring and insisting on living in Sodom and Gomorrah when God has given us the Promised Land.