Thanksgiving, made possible by only one word…
By only one man.
Those pilgrims they landed they tried and they struggled. Nothing worked. They really suffered. Nothing grew, all the seasons were wrong. They came down with all of the infections which were just like at home but different, different enough to do them real harm. They even tried hunting, but even that was diferent than they had known. This was a new country where God had made things other than they had believed would be possible. As many laid sick and indeed dying, they gave it one more try. A small band went out looking for game and they met with something totally unexpected. This is the word. This is the message. America listen. This is the word. “Welcome.” This is what they heard.
How could that small band of travelling originals know one word of English, “Welcome” but they did so. They cautiously walked towards the struggling settlers and spoke the one word of English they knew “Welcome” all this way from the homeland.
This was the moment which gave America English. This is the reason that as new settlers arrived they heard English. All along the coasts were settlements where it was the language and new arrivals from Germany, Poland, Spain, The Ukraine, from the known world heard and adapted. English was the first language they heard.
This was the word of Squanto.
For that welcoming band (that small ‘nation’) led the poor settlers to another tribe than their own. They took them to a ‘nation’ where Squanto lived.
It was Squanto who took them in, who travelled with them, who settled with them for a while. He taught them how life was different here. They gathered seeds because of him. They learned the lore. The lore of this land the Americas. And they thrived.
In years to come, they would be all along the coast, coastal settlement to coastal settlement; welcoming the new arrivals in English, just like the tribal band before them, “Welcome” “Welcome” “Welcome”
This was the doing of one person, one person on this earth; Squanto.
Many, many years before, other strangers had come, they had come from Spain, they had come to take, and they took him. Squanto the slave had to work; had to work on an alien vessel, a huge wooden sailing ship, doing menial tasks. Hard they treated him, and hard he worked. Then came the time that they traded him. To yet another alien vessel, in an alien world, at an alien port. From America to Europe.
From there he sailed with this new crew to another world. To a port, as he learned they called them. To the port of London. More beings in one glimpse than he had ever seen in his life.
But he saw his life ahead of him and he jumped ship. He left. He escaped. He survived. He learned the language. English.
Time went by and he had what he needed to know. The ships that landed here could go anywhere. So he asked and he asked, and one of these ships said yes. The captain agreed, yes he was going to the ‘new’ world and yes he would employ him.
All Squanto required in payment was nourishment. Nourishment and hope.
The journey was long. And it was hard.
The shore, at last, was before him. The captain was true to his word. Squanto was free.
He was not bitter. He had learned. And he knew one word more than any other.
Long was his walk, hundreds of miles, but he got down that coast, till he started to recognise where he was…
And was he welcomed, he who had come back from the dead, all these years gone.
As an older wiser man, he taught all around him. The only way to survive in this ‘new’ larger world was to welcome. To welcome.
He taught this word to all who came near him.
And those settlers, all those years onwards were welcome.
All along the coast of America his one true word echoed. “Welcome.” “Welcome.” “Welcome.”
Be thankful and be welcoming.
For this is Thanksgiving.
Creatures of the Norse – Animals of Norway and creatures thought of as mythical are collected on these decorative cards, which one do you identify with?
I created these for Angela, my fellow storyteller at Njardarheimr Viking Valley in Gudvangen, Norway. The idea was that visitors can pick one and be inspired and a selection can be used to improvise a story.
A show based on medieval folklore especially created to perform at weddings.
Originally commissioned by Linsey Marie Davis, with special thanks to J Michael Lang.
(as filmed at Barley Hall, York.)
(Cover photo taken at the wedding of Jesse and Hannah in Stillwater, Minnesota.)
Norse Goddess Poetic Cards – Created in Njardarheimr Viking Town in Gudvangen, Norway