As the 17th century dawned, cause-and-effect was merging parallel universes.
In the Old World, a decision by a group of Leiden Separatists put them on a circuitous journey. Meanwhile, in the New World, a manchild named Tisquantum was born to the Wampanoag Indians.
Seeking religious freedom, the Separatists crossed Europe and then the Atlantic. On their odyssey they would steel their convictions, which proved handy in the New World.
Incredibly, first as a hostage and later as an interpreter, Tisquantum crossed the Atlantic six times. On his odyssey, Tisquantum learned Old World languages that, combined with his New World survival skills, would contribute to his rendezvous with destiny.
During their journeys, both experienced a name change: The Separatists became Pilgrims and Tisquantum became Squanto. And as the Pilgrims prepared for their first Atlantic crossing, Squanto made his last.
Arriving at his birthplace in 1619, Squanto found that his entire village and family had been wiped out by an epidemic.
On the day after Christmas, 1620, with the Mayflower Compact in hand, the Pilgrims came ashore at what is now Massachusetts, on a place they named Plymouth, after the city where their voyage began.
The Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal; less than half of the 102 colonists survived to spring. Then on March 16th, 1621, an Indian named Samoset walked up to the Pilgrims and said, “Hello, English.” Very soon he recognized that these sad-looking folks needed help from someone who spoke better English.
The two universes finally converged and cause-and-effect met humanity as Samoset brought Squanto to the Pilgrims. In one of the great moments of serendipity, it turns out “Plymouth” was the very spot of Squanto’s ill-fated village.
Squanto spent the rest of 1621 befriending the Pilgrims and teaching them how to survive in the New World. It’s clear that his contribution was critical to the survival of these important American forebears.
When the courage and convictions of one group of individuals converged with the humanity of two others, something special happened: Part of the foundation of the most benevolent nation in history was born.
This week we give thanks for these individuals and the blessings that have accrued to us 391 years later.
One person can make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving.