This past Sunday, my wife Hoa and I were in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. I decided, more or less on a whim or, more likely, to once again feel part of that New England Calvinist culture which centered my Father’s family for generations in this continent. I went to the local Congregational Church, now part of the United Church of Christ. The congregation in Wellfleet was 301 years old. Its church had been built in 1850, very solid in design and construction, very Yankee without fuss or feathers, plain and utilitarian, as if built for use in a work of worthy substance.
Wellfleet is just a few miles from where, in 1620, the Pilgrims first came ashore after their voyage from Delft-Haven in Holland to what would be called “New” England. Not finding the land well-disposed for settlement, they sailed farther along the coast to make their new home in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As God-fearing, but very practical in worldly ways, the Pilgrims were on an “errand into the wilderness,” the better to find solace in their faith. Their “errand” was to inspire and guide the American Republic ever since. As one of our Caux Round Table Fellows says, “Behaviors are the residuals of values.” Puritan values have had a long shelf-life in the behaviors of my fellow citizens for 400 years and through many of them, in the world beyond our shores, as well.
The service centered on hymns. There was no sermon. Most of the hymns were not familiar to me, raised a Unitarian. One was new, from 1995. It was “Restless Weaver.” I was surprised how such new lyrics connected so well with the Puritan tradition of yore, when so much these days is a rejection of the past, of duty and sacrifice, of making a Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan’s 1678 tale), day by day, through a hard and cold world, into an unknown future, with head held high and courage at the ready.
The last verse was:
Restless Weaver, still conceiving new life – now and yet to be – Binding all your vast creation in one living tapestry: You have called us to be weavers. Let your love guide all we do. With your Reign of Peace our pattern, we will weave your world anew.
Remarkable, I thought. Expressed here is the very sentiment which inspired the Caux Round Table’s Principles for Business, a sentiment shared by the Japanese, Europeans and Americans who drafted the principles, each in their own way a restless weaver seeking a better world for all of us.