This Thanksgiving, remember who settled our country

Imagine giving up the comfort and security of all that is familiar and known in order to face a dangerous and complete unknown. Imagine giving up one’s home, possessions, friends, and relatives.

Imagine leaving everything behind, knowing that you may never return, and that future contact with those who remain might just be impossible, because where you are going there are no phones, no radios, no postal service, much less email or texting or instant messaging capabilities.

Imagine traveling for two months in cramped, cruel, gut-wrenching conditions, across an ocean, through storms and uncharted, lawless seas, with no means of communicating with the rest of the world.

What lies out of sight

Imagine ending up in a place with no maps, no paved roads, no towns or cities to speak of, and no idea of what lies just out of sight. Imagine arriving unannounced on a rocky shore in mid-November, trees bare, winds cold, land wild and uncultivated.

Imagine sensing, though, that someone is watching, someone has been there before you, and may, in fact, still be there, wondering why you, uninvited and perhaps unwelcome, are claiming his home as your own.

Imagine calling the end of the earth home. Imagine having to envision, then to fashion, build, grow, or assemble, absolutely everything — everything — using nothing but what is found and that which fit on one boat.

Imagine not only having to construct the physical things one needs to survive but having to create from scratch the spiritual, emotional, and political necessities as well.

Watching others die

Imagine having to give birth to a community, and then to nurture it. Imagine having to do this with limited medicine or even medical knowledge, no hospitals, no vaccines. Imagine having to watch half of those who arrived with you die. Imagine surviving.

Imagine enduring this because freedom — spiritual and political freedom — is more important than anything else you can possibly imagine.

Imagine looking at your life and being not just content, but fall-to-your-knees, hard-to-catch-your-breath, make-you-weep grateful for what has come before that has made your life possible; and for what you have; and for what you are capable of imagining for the future.

Just imagine.