April 22 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. I intended to blog about that, taking a break from anything COVID-19 related. However, as I sat down to write this blog, I learned more of my 2020 plans were cancelled, because of COVID-19. I thank all those decision-makers who have to make these unpopular announcements. Still, my plans included a once-in-a-life time opportunity to celebrate with other distant relatives the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower.
The Mayflower arrived off the coast of North America in September 1620. Plans have been in the making for years to coordinate several multi-communities, multi-countries celebrations. I and my brother made reservations months ago to be part of some of the events. We booked rooms at the charming Sea Meadow Inn Bed & Breakfast located, appropriately enough, in Brewster, MA. We made reservations for a banquet with other Brewster descendants we’d never met but were excited to get to know. Today those in charge of these festivities sent out the news that, out of concerns for public safety, they were cancelling these events.
#Mayflower400 and #Plymouth2020
In addition to the cancelled family reunion, I and many others have been working to release Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures in September, to catch the #Mayflower 400 and #Plymouth2020 wave of festivities. How, when, and where to release the book is now a topic of frequent discussion between myself, the publisher, and other partners in this venture.
In the midst of the life-threatening scenarios reported hour by hour, this set back is of gnat proportions. It feels inappropriate to even mention it. People are dying every day from COVID-19. Their plans are permanently ended. Families and friends wait helplessly as they take to their final gasps for breath without so much as a final hug or squeeze of their hand. Others work horrific schedules to care for the stricken or risk their own health to keep what’s left of the economy limping along so we’re assured access to food and other essentials.
None-the-less it, of all the cancelled 2020 events, this one is the biggest letdown of them all. The 400thanniversary is only the 400th anniversary in 2020. I guess we can celebrate the 401st anniversary; there really isn’t anything particularly magical about the number 400. For all I know, people may already at work doing just that.
A Few Encouraging Words
I forwarded the news to a few who have been part of this book preparation and publication process. These responses came back almost immediately, doing much to elevate my mood.
From a new friend I have not yet met in person:
My heart aches for your disappointment. God is in control and all things will work out according to His plans. With that said, we, the Pokanoket [Nation in New England] have embraced your friendship. And as friends, are committed to working with you and celebrating our friendship and your endeavors. Let us know how we can help (let’s get creative). How the Creator has put our families together 400 years after our ancestors first met is something only He can do. He knew this virus was going to happen and many plans would fall apart. But yet He connected us in His perfect timing and for a purpose. And for that – to God be the glory. What better story is there than that!
Sachem Po Pummukaonk Anogqs
[Aka known as Tracey Brown, member of the Pokanoket Nation]
From one of the people who believed this story needed to be written and published, Steve Eisner at When Words Count retreat in Vermont:
I See this as, potentially, a huge opportunity for your book. As my German grandmother would say in her broken English, “You never know for what this is good!”
And from Beth Splaine, a friend I met at When Words Count. Through her efforts Sachem Po Pummukaonk Anogqs and I have met virtually.
A friend of mine told me several years ago something big was coming…a new energy that would alter the world. Something that could so irreversibly alter the human condition for the planet. And here it is. She said that this new energy is going to be so positive. A new type of all-inclusive leadership will emerge. Maybe that’s why I’m sure that this is a temporary setback – a chance to better prepare – for everything.
The Pandemic/Climate Connection
It occurs to me that actually #EarthDay2020, #Mayflower400 and #Plymouth2020 may have a few things in common. In March 2019 a team of scientists at the University College London released their conclusions that the 15th Century Great Dying among the Indigenous people of North America actually impacted climate change. So many people died during that pandemic that the cumulative effect altered the earth’s climate, cooling the earth. The team published their conclusions on the science and medicine database Science Direct. Other studies of pandemics in the Middle Ages report similar findings. We are more connected to Mother Earth than we realize.
Ironically, it was a 16th century pandemic that prompted me to explore the Mayflower story in more depth. It was only a few years ago that I learned how that pandemic wiped out around three-quarters of the New England indigenous people. The Mayflower passengers and crew suffered about a fifty percent death rate in their first few months in North America. That combination of devastation brought the two cultures together.
More of the Rest of the Story
I wrote the Mayflower story as historical fiction to more fully explore the plight of both cultures and how they helped one another. I will still tell the story, though apparently not when and where I originally planned. The book will still come out, with details about that yet to be determined.
The year 2020 is unfolding in – I hate to use this word – but it applies – in unprecedented ways. Some things though are unchanging. The kindness of others in times of crisis. The front-line heroes. The songs of the birds for mirth. The warmth of the spring sunshine. The fragrance of flowers. The ingenuity of people who have adapted to virtual gatherings. Our human need to connect in whatever ways we can.
Until COVID-19 is declared history; until we feel safe gathering in public in groups larger than ten; until we develop reliable vaccines and procedures to separate the contagious from the not; be safe.
Tell me, where do you find hope when your plans fall apart? Where do you turn for encouragement?