A Stepping Stone



A Stepping Stone

By Katherine Dlugolonski


While those in most of our country know to attribute the First Thanksgiving to the Mayflower Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, I often wonder if many understand why on earth the Pilgrims undertook such a journey. The pat answer, given by rote, would be for religious freedom, yes? And this was a large part of it. But there is something so much deeper that has been largely ignored by recent generations. If one were to journey and relive their experiences, you would see incredible difficulties and hardships; death, loneliness, and disease. For religious freedom…is that enough? They could have continued to travel around Europe to different countries that were more tolerant, as they did with Holland. They could have undertaken any number of simpler and less drastic measures to ensure their freedom to practice their faith separate from the Church of England. So, what is the larger ideology at work here?


William Bradford, a member of the original Mayflower journey and the second elected governor of the fledgling colony, wrote this in his On Plymouth Plantation,


“…they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some ways towards it, for the propagation and advance of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”


Bear a moment with me here… some of these phrases sound familiar. As a homeschooling mom of four boys, watching the attacks children face on morality in our culture, I’ve spoken freely of desiring to lay good foundations in their lives. My good foundations for them encompass a deep belief in the veracity of Scripture, a knowledge and understanding of how all subjects begin and end with Jesus Christ, and how, as Noah Webster said, “Education is useless without the Bible”. The Pilgrims left what they knew, endured intense hardship, for the desire to protect their children and lay up good foundations for future generations, vis a vis, their children. That sounds like things I’ve gone through as a first-generation homeschooler in a world that doesn’t always support us.


I’ve left the school system for the purpose of laying up good foundations for my children and theirs. I want them to grow with the Truth in their hearts, and not have to continually do damage control when they get home from learning errant philosophy as truth. I have suffered some persecution for this, and perhaps you too, dear sister and brother. But there could have been all manner of other solutions to this, right?


Let’s further peruse this cherished quote and see the main point here. They came to the New World, as Bradford puts it, “for the propagation and advance of the kingdom of Christ”…that, “they should be but stepping stones to others.” The Oxford dictionary definition of a stepping stone is “1. A raised stone used singly or in a series as a place on which to step when crossing a stream or muddy area. 2. An undertaking or event that helps one to make progress towards a specific goal.” I am floored by this every time; profoundly impacted. The Pilgrims left all that they knew, home and business, sold all that they had to gain passage on a ship, lost that ship and turned around, left too late in the season, endured storms and disease en route. They lost two-thirds of the passengers to all manner of death, and couldn’t find appropriate land to build on for months of freezing habitation aboard the Mayflower, just staring at land directly in front of them. They endured a hostile environment and starvation. To be stepping stones. To lift up others still to come, to allow those who wish to worship Christ, to share His name with the nations, to bring the Gospel to the most remote places, including the heart of your child, freely and without restraint; to cross the muddy stream of intolerance and bring the Light of the Gospel to a new nation.


I am a Christian, a wife, a homeschool mother. I am a runner, a writer, and a bit of a perfectionist. But am I a stepping stone? Have I been humble enough in my homeschool journey, towards my children and others who may need encouragement, strength, or practical help? Am I helping others “make progress towards a specific goal”? Who is the Lord calling me to lift up and over the muddy waters of life? Have I been too focused on my own goals and not as attentive to His?


With this season upon us, a season of Pilgrims and unit studies on the origin of our country and the first settlers, consider this deeper meaning to the Pilgrims’ stories. They were seeking religious freedom, so the rote answer is not incorrect. But it was not for them…it was for those to come. You and I. Our children. Let’s honor that with our willing desire to be a stepping stone… not just for our children (but yes for them too!) but for others as well.


Katherine Dlugolonski is a lover of Jesus, wife for 12 years, dog lover, and homeschooling mother of four crazy boys who keep her young. Just having moved to Idaho a year ago, she’s still missing the gorgeous high rises and busy streets of her whole-life home, New York. She’s quite enjoying the mountains here, though. She graduated from Boston University and loves writing, acting, running, and reading, and can be found (those ten minutes a day when she’s not chasing after aforementioned four boys, two dogs, or husband) with a steaming cup of tea and, hopefully, a smile.

Committed to helping parents fulfill their God-given right and responsibility to educate their own children.