Archive for December 3, 2008

Where is “The Desolate Wilderness” Now?

The following piece titled “The Desolate Wilderness” was written by Nathaniel Morton who kept the records for the Plymouth Colony under the governorship of William Bradford.  Morton chronicled in 1620 what the first settlers in the U.S. went through the year they crossed the Atlantic Ocean for distant and inhospitable shores.  Every Thanksgiving since 1961, the Wall Street Journal publishes this piece. 


Strangely enough, I believe what Morton wrote almost 400 years ago applies to my situation now in Kazakhstan, except reversed.  I am recognizing the fact that we can’t afford the expensive airfare for me to join my family and husband for Christmas.  The sad reality is hitting me that we will be apart for our fifteenth wedding anniversary and also separated from my parents, sisters and brothers and nephews and nieces.  Life’s cruel ironies I guess, I’ve survived Christmases apart from family but with ex-pat friends while teaching in the Philippines and China.  This time, most all my friends will have left Almaty.  Seems dismal right now but then I hearken to the fact that I am merely a pilgrim and stranger on this earth.


“So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hat prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.


Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? And what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weather beaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.”

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