NORMAN — A long time ago I read a story about the very first November the “new world” pilgrims spent together. No, this one’s not about the big ‘party’ thrown that day with the Native Americans. Instead, this story centered on these people aboard the Mayflower and their journey across the Atlantic. They had left England in search of a life where they were free to worship God.
These brave souls found themselves in the middle of a vast ocean, crowded below deck in a ship not designed for that many people. Supposedly the main mast had broken, repairs were going quite slow, it was taking much longer for the journey to the new land than was originally anticipated, and they were running out of food. As they drifted in the ice-cold waters, their food supply had to be rationed. Everyday, each person received one drink of fresh water and five kernels of corn. Many of these pilgrims were succumbing to sickness.
Upon their arrival in the new world, they landed farther north than was planned. Instead of joining with others already here, they were on their own. They had to remain on the ship while homes were built and food was foraged. Sickness and death continued, taking its toll on the fledging colony. Native Americans in the area took pity on these folks and intervened – teaching the pilgrims how to plant crops, hunt and gather edible items.
So when these God-fearing people sat down the following November after the harvest, they gave thanks to God for His divine providence. I have no doubt that more than one of them sat at their place at the table, taking in the bountiful feast in front of them, and recalled the drink of water and the five kernels of corn. Maybe, just maybe, these five kernels held a special meaning in their hearts.
Maybe one stood for the food and drink in front of them at the table — a stark contrast to the rationed corn. Maybe another stood for their present health and the babies born in the new world — a blessing compared to the disease and death of the ship. Still another might have represented the log homes they had carved out of the wilderness a comfort compared to the cold, damp hull of the ship. And yet another may have stood for the friendships they had made with the Native peoples — companionship in a strange and sometimes lonely place. But I would venture a guess that the most important of the five kernels probably spoke to their hearts about a loving, giving, providential Heavenly Father who had saved and restored them.
Their response? Thanksgiving. Abundant, heart-felt gratitude for the many blessings that many of us take for granted everyday. Food. Health. Shelter. Family and friends. Most of all God. This Thanksgiving, in the midst of family, food and football, take a moment to identify what your five kernels of corn would represent. Chances are your heart will flow with gratitude as well.