Clyde, Time Was: Take some advice, pilgrim, and head home

Published 12:44 am Sunday, November 18, 2018

Time was we were all pilgrims in a foreign land.

Peligrin or peregrinus from the Latin, for one who journeys abroad, specifically the ones at Plymouth Colony in 1620. We had our own group of tourists to North Carolina in the summer of 1587 following a charter by Queen Elizabeth I, authorizing the discovery and occupation of lands not already held by “any Christian Prince and people.”

In May of 1609 the Virginia Company was instructed, “Here, you shall finde foure of the english alive, let by Sr Walter Rawley which escaped from the slaughter of the Powhatan, uppon the first arrivall of our colonie, and if you finde them not, yet search into this Countrey.”

After 400 years, they are still lost and we are still roaming around trying to find a new world to conquer. Caravans still arrive at our borders in search of a new home. Think how strange the transplanted slaves must have found the new homestead. “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.” Their traditions still live.

Any wayfarer must feel lost until he comes to that old crosstitch in a frame with leaves in the corners over the door: “Home sweet home.” We all strive to be happy, hale and hardy and healthy at “home for the holidays.”

The homeless don’t have the joy of a “home on the range, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.” They miss out on all that bickering, complaining, cussing and crying that some honeymooners never see coming to their happy home. That was before nondisclosure agreements. Or, heaven forbid, if you married a Yankee.

Not until 1856 could you hit a home run in baseball, and in 1875 they called it home plate, not just at home games in the home stretch. Hometown heroes are the best. How can you get so wound up about a team when you don’t even know one single player?

Why don’t we call teams “pilgrims” today? And what’s with that funny hat with a buckle on top? Guess we have made a lot of progress since then, huh? Pilgrim? Is that Randy in a costume?

“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” — John Howard Payne

Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to take a pilgrimage “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.” What you find there may just be the best encomium that you have been looking for — rooted in the past times of hard working lives, good fortune and proud ancestors who cared for others, and yet shared with strangers. You’ll find a warm chess pie in the oven and if you are lucky a little homebrew.

To quote John Wayne in “Liberty Valance,” “take some advice, pilgrim.” When you travel out and around, remember you represent your hometown and you wear that label. And when you return, what joy to be homebound and the weary wayfarers can take up residence in a small cabin beside the road and write about the world out there and his wanderlust for it.

John Bunyan (1628-1688):

“He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,

“Let him in constancy follow the Master.

“There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent

“His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.”

Clyde is a Salisbury artist.