The Mayflower Compact?
by Terry Camsey, Major –
I always get a kick out of it when I hear someone say that his or her ancestor (or ancestors) came over on the Mayflower. Having seen and boarded the “Mayflower” that sits in Plymouth Harbor, I have come to the conclusion that those ancestors must have been very small people for so many to cram onto that boat.
There is no doubt that people of earlier days were smaller, as anyone who has visited Ann Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-on-Avon, for example and seen the length of the beds and the height of the doorways.
It is apparent when we see the suits of armor of previous days. Those knights must have been around five feet tall or less.
By contrast, I am amazed at the height of some young people today. I have no empirical evidence to hand to prove it but my sense is that each generation is bigger and stronger than its predecessor. Maybe Darwin was on to something!
Thanksgiving is a lovely celebration when, today, families travel miles to be together, to enjoy fellowship and to recall blessings.
It was not, as I recall, a celebration that was part of English life when I was a child. Not surprising, perhaps, since the Mayflower Compact was a written agreement composed by a consensus of the new settlers arriving on The Mayflower in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 to free the colony from English law!
The celebration that would have been nearest to it as I was growing up would have been harvest festival. A time when the altar in front of the corps hall would be overflowing with the fruits of the land with assorted vegetables, fruit, corn, and assorted baskets of food contributed by people in the corps.
We would sing, “Come ye thankful people come, raise the song of harvest home,” and, “Bringing in the sheaves…we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves,” together with a multitude of other songs from The Salvation Army Songbook, echoing the same theme.
I read recently—and sadly, if it is true—that there is some talk of not reprinting the Songbook. What a terrible loss that would be to the Army and to its heritage. One hopes that is not a new “compact” by some to break away from one of the treasures of our movement, a branch of the Christian church that has so impacted the world for God and good.
Those harvest festival days were memorable ones on the calendar and reminded us that we rely upon the grace and compassion of the God who made the seasons enabling the earth to flourish with its goodness.
But, likewise, Thanksgiving enables us to reconnect with our roots, both as a family and with God, our Creator. As we do this year, let us never forget…
But is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand;
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain.
The breezes and the sunshine, the soft refreshing rain.
All good gifts around us are sent from Heav’n above;
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all his love!”
SA Songbook #935