16. Thanksgiving

Eventually, little Mary had to hug her parents goodbye. The large wooden doors of the temple shut with the resounding sound of cannon fire behind Joachim and Anna, closing Mary off from her mommy's hugs and from her playmates. I didn't see if she cried because I too was outside.

"I have a treat for you!" said Fabian to distract me from my compassionate but useless thoughts. Before I could reply, I noticed a stranger behind him peering at me.

Phineas moved in front of Fabian to greet me with his warm contented face that drew me into him. Phineas made himself with long white sideburns that framed a square jaw and ruddy red cheeks. His face was accented by glistening cerulean blue eyes fringed with wispy crows feet. His form was compact and muscular. He looked like an American pilgrim, like the ones I had seen in paintings. The way angels sculpt themselves to blend with the environments they are sent to has always seemed to me to be one of the more fascinating parts of being assigned to earth. I still don't know how to do that.

"I want to introduce you to Phineas" said Fabian. He has come to escort you to Massachusetts 1620 years after Christ was born. The Bride is particularly strong and well there; you should see and experience how Her faith in Christ, her Beloved, and Our Father carries Her through extremely severe conditions.

Slightly confused I asked, "Will I still be on the flat circle of NOW time, or will we be ascending the spiral of time since, by 1620 Christ will have been long gone from this time-cursed planet?"

Phineas replied, "Like the events of Christ's life, Thanksgiving days, even more than most of the Bride's feast days show the little gods how a feast day is actually happening, not being remembered. It seems to be that it is because many of the same elements are part of each of millions of Thanksgiving gatherings. We must be going now. Do you have a heavy winter coat?"

Weather. It had never occurred to me before Phineas suggested it, that I needed to protect myself from weather. Doesn't Phineas remember his life before creation and how cold it was before the sun was made; has he been here too long?

"Uh, oh forgive me; perhaps you are right; I have adapted to this world quite a bit. But in this case unless you can feel the bitter cold, you won't understand the suffering of the pilgrims. If you can't feel their suffering, then you can't understand how their love for our God pulled them through the vice.

Phineas planted in my mind a thought that I had to hold onto tightly while Fabian was bear-hugging me good-bye.

"Good-bye Fabian. I will never forget this day, thank you; I hope we will meet again soon." With that, I turned to Phineas to indicate that I was ready for take-off.

While we were flying through the night over ocean and land and up the spiral of time I thought about how God used suffering as a tool to teach and mould His children so they could mature into His Bride. It occurred to me how the saints I had met in heaven had all suffered great calamities in their lives. Suffering gave them opportunities to practice and demonstrate their faith in the invisible Father. For the wisest, it helped them to see the ways in which they had failed to obey Christ's commands, and thus failed to reflect God's image and likeness. Such awareness is the first step to repentance and reform.

But for some, the pain of suffering makes them mean, like a scream for relief. God forgives the repentant and never ceases to teach the teachable.

Phineas and I landed in a village called Plymouth into a very real and current scene. Men and boys were sawing trees for firewood and shelter. Some women were cooking and others were sewing inside the large common house. Everyone had bundled up to stay warm. The blacksmith's fire was a popular gathering place.

Phineas said, "See these people. The more adversity that is mounted against them, the harder they pray. They never seem to give in to despair, to petty jealousies, or anything that would divide them from each other. They are lead by their common purpose to build a home for themselves in this empty land where they can worship God as His Holy Spirit.

Look, the entire village of Plymouth is preparing for a feast day of Thanksgiving that Governor William Bradford declared a week ago, to thank God for rewarding their hard work with success and for sending the Indians, Samoset and Squanto who taught them how to live well in the wilderness."

Phineas and I watched quietly while Massasoit Indians arrived with five dressed deer, and more than a dozen turkeys. Two Indians were teaching a small group of women how to make hoecakes and pudding out of cornmeal and syrup. Another Indian was surrounded by a group of children while he demonstrated roasting kernels of corn in an earthen pot. Out came fluffy white popcorn! They laughed and laughed with glee!

We saw ladies cooking big pots of carrots and onions, turnips, and parsnips and others using some of their precious flour and their dried summer fruit to make blueberry, apple and cherry pies. The scene reminded me of Poppy who wished she could eat.

Finally they were all ready to dine. William Brewster lead the prayers by thanking God for satisfying all their needs, even when their faith weakened. He thanked God too for the lives of the many friends and family who had succumbed to death and for the friendship of the Indians.

Every head was bowed so that Phineas and I could not see even one face. When the prayer was over most of the rising cheeks had lines of tears running down them.

After supper, there were archery contests, foot races, and wrestling.so much commotion, so much gaiety was had by all.

"Do you see that thankfulness unites the giver and the receiver?" whispered Phineas. "They become one in much the same way that little gods are one with the one true God."

Catching on, I added, "...and similar to how the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are essentially one. It seems to me that thankfulness even unites them with each other."

Phineas looked at me grinning from ear to ear. He was remembering when I tried to find the Bride in a restaurant. He laughed because I had only been about 400 years too late.