Friday, October 18, 2013

"Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot
We'll weather the weather whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not."  Little Bear

Gerret Wolfertse VanCouwenhoven
My 13th Great Grandfather who weathered the storm
though they had no words to describe it.


"I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstances I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  Philippians 4:12 NASB

There's nothing so humbling as having men from a shelter come help move some heavy shelving into our garage because we have so much stuff it has oozed out into hard to navigate blobs.  We are stuffed with stuff. There is so much that we need to do a better job organizing, moving it around, sorting all our junk so that it won't swallow our grandchildren whole when they go out there to play.  These men have so little and know what is essential for them to weather the contrary weather in their lives.  They've come through storms of brokenness, addiction, homelessness.  I stand in awe of them.

The settlers from Plymouth to Jamestown, and all the colonists faced the need for meeting the basic needs, safety, shelter and sustenance to survive the early years.  Many, many died from attack, disease, and starvation, a few even resorting to cannibalism (that's what you call it when a wife disappears and the husband come out looking well fed).  More would have died if not for individual Indians like Squanto and Pocohantas who brought food.  A few short years later, times were better.  In mid-August of 1630, the haying was nearly done and the rest of the harvest would be ready in a few short weeks.  Suddenly a horrible wind came followed by a storm surge and waves twenty feet tall through Boston, twice.  Indians clung to tops of trees while many were swept away.  Great swathes of trees snapped like toothpicks or were blown down.  Their houses lost roofs or collapsed. Several ships at sea were lost.  The ship the Angel Gabriel was torn apart on the rocks and miraculously most on board were rescued.  Mather wrote

" Lord sent Forth a most terrible Storme of rain,
and ye Angel Gabriel lying in at anchor...was burst in pieces, and cast away in ye Storme and most of ye cattle and other goodes with one seaman and three or four passengers did also perish therein."

The colonists had never seen a hurricane, didn't know what to call it.  Not even the Indians had seen any thing like it.  Though everything they had brought with them to the New World was lost, the people saved from the ship were grateful to come away with their lives.  Now scientists know it was one of the largest on record in history for that far north.  The colonists had to weather the weather together.  They had to depend upon the One who created such forces of nature as the big wind.

Interestingly enough, in 1658 Gerret Wolfertse was able to purchase 3,600 acres, a large portion of what is Brooklyn today, from the Lenape Indians.  Nine Indians including three chiefs signed the land deed.  It was highly unusual as the Dutch West Indian Company owned nearly all the land and seldom allowed private ownership.  The Indians called it Keskateuw meaning "where the grass is cut," and was later called "Flatland."  His plantation was near the Indian long house. I'd say he weathered the storms quite well.   In 2007 this three hundred and fifty plus year old deed was auctioned off by Bloomsbury for $156,000, just for a little piece of paper, a piece of history.  I wouldn't mind a piece of Long Island.  How about you?  But I am content.

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