First thanksgiving illustrates power of spiritual resilience
November 21, 2012
FORT MEADE, Md., -- At the First Army Division East prayer breakfast, held here Nov. 20, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Harry Huey used the pilgrims and the first thanksgiving to illustrate the power of spiritual resilience.
"The Pilgrims are a vivid picture of spiritual resiliency in the face of long-term adversity. Their story is a critical aspect of the founding of America," Huey said.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, Huey encouraged everyone to look closely within themselves and think about resilience overall and what role spiritual resilience plays.
"I want to make the case that spiritual resiliency is absolutely critical to our overall resiliency as human beings," Huey continued. "As we look around us and see people struggling with different types of issues from moral failures, to tragic losses and sickness, I think that spiritual resilience is one of the key components that enables us as human beings to not only cope with life but to live life in a way that is good for us."
He chose the Pilgrims as an example because they are foundational to our history as Americans and are the originators of Thanksgiving.
"In my mind individually and collectively, they stand the test of time as examples of rugged spiritual resiliency in the face of extreme adversity. When you think about their odyssey - migrating twice within a fifteen year period, a near 50 percent death rate for their first year on American soil, suffering financial setbacks … living through storms at sea while crammed below deck in a small ship, malnutrition, starvation, expose to cold, violent winters, and isolation - and then think about how intact they remained as individuals and as a group, you have to ask, 'How did they do it?'"
They did it, Huey continued, through a robust, specific, coherent, and dynamic religious faith and practice. These same attributes remain relevant today.
"I think the prayer breakfast was a huge success. It was a great turn out and the 'history' lesson connected Christians from the 1600's to Christians today. Chap Huey prepared his lesson well, and I truly enjoyed listening to it," Said Master Sgt. Billie J. Suttles, First Army Division East.
"The Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program identifies spiritual resiliency as one of five dimensions of resilience. CSF defines it as this: one's purpose, core values, beliefs identity and life vision. CSF says that sprit resiliency draws upon other things, religious teachings that form the basis of their character," said Huey.
Prayer breakfasts are one of the ways the Army emphasizes spiritual resilience. Huey explained that attendance is typically voluntary, can be non-denominational. Unit commanders and chaplains together determine the theme for prayers breakfasts, and chaplains determine the content. Huey is an avid supporter of these events.
"I think it's important to have spiritual resilience events for a couple of reasons. First, they raise awareness of the spiritual dimension of Soldier Fitness. My observation is that this is the least addressed of the five dimensions of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness," he explained. "Second, I think spiritual resilience events are important because they serve as opportunities for the audience to do an internal inventory regarding their spiritual fitness."
"I believe Spiritual fitness is an important part of my well being as a Soldier," Suttles said, "but it is an individual Soldier's choice."
The Pilgrims, Huey said, didn't just inventory their spiritual fitness; they incorporated their spirituality in every element of their lives, drawing on it to overcome hardships and dangers. Their success led not only to the first Thanksgiving but laid the foundation for the American character today. He listed six key points of their spiritual resilience that allowed them to continue to persevere.
They had a strong religious faith that was both coherent and personal. They regularly practiced their faith both individually and as a group. They had a strong sense of community. They had a very strong sense of mission. The accepted that faith included adversity, finally, they had a strong sense of God's providence.
"It was answered that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage," Huey read from Governor William Bradford's memoirs, "Of Plymouth Plantation.
At the conclusion of the prayer breakfast, Huey encouraged those in attendance to be like the Pilgrims with a spiritual resilience that would carry them through the ups and downs in their lives.