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Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Jamestown Winter
By James Clem
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The Dream is shattered; it is finished. Or it soon will be spent when the last of us are gone. We have no food, no provisions and no hope.
Barely forty of us are left from the hundred plus that arrived in this New World. Jamestown will soon fade silently into history as a failed colony - like Roanoke. Our families back in England will never know what became of us.
The winter is upon us. The ground is hard and the wind coming off the ocean is bitter cold. The walls of our fort buffer its deathly chill but cannot deny its attack. Slowly its icy grip is claiming us all one by one.
On the first of the year, we fired cannon across the lapping waves of the Atlantic as a celebration of the coming of the New Year of our Lord, 1608 - none of us are likely to live to see another. Each day, men take watch from the palisade walls for the sails that will herald the return of Christopher Newport with fresh supplies. Until that day arrives, we have little to sustain us and hope grows dimmer.
We are a wretched and beaten down lot. We toil daily for fish from the James River and firewood from the forest. These tasks consume our existence. There is no wildlife to be found in the woodlands. They have long since departed to wait for the coming of Spring.
Our preacher, Master Robert Hunt, holds service each Sabbath to give us every opportunity to be ready for that fast approaching day when we look God full in the face. Therein lies our only real hope, that soon we will be gone from this dismal settlement to a far better place that Jesus himself has gone to prepare for us.
We were fools to come here to search for gold for men who already have more than they need. Master Hunt tells us that the Bible says not to build up treasures on earth. At least in that we are succeeding, for we have found no gold.
Many of our lot are gentlemen who until now have never suffered for anything. They embarked on a great adventure but are now discovering what hard labor means and what it is to be born of a lower class. Perhaps one day the world will recognize that all men are created equal in the eyes of God.
Captain Smith had been able to keep some measure of control over this group, but he is gone now, captured by the natives and most likely killed in some pagan ritual. At least he must no longer endure this starvation. Master Hunt maintains that we are the chosen of God to minister to these Indians. His words fall on deaf ears. We see them only as savages, but yet they are not the ones who are starving and dying.
Hunt is respected as a fair man. Seldom can anyone testify to a harsh word coming from his lips. Foremost among his treasures are a handful of pages from the Holy Bible. Some of the gentlemen can read a bit of the King’s English, but not the Latin words that he shows them. He says that one day everyone will have their own copy of the Holy Scriptures to study and enjoy at their every leisure.
For now, we yearn only for the coming of Spring. Green blades of grass breaking through the frozen dirt beneath our tired and aching feet might act to rekindle a lifeless heart. To feast again on wild berries and fresh meat is a distant dream as we aspire to survive winter's terrible grip one frigid day at a time.
But one day the winter will pass and Spring will rule again. The trees will once more color the landscape in innumerable shades of green. The forest will exalt in a choir of natural voices proclaiming the majesty of the Creator. Blooming red, yellow, white, and purple flowers will be painted on that fresh green canvas and fill the air with fragrances to delight a despairing soul. And on that day, we that remain will rise to our feet, lift our hands to the heavens, and join our voices with the natural chorus around us to proclaim of the wondrous love of our Father in heaven and of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
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