Friday, May 27, 2011

Way of the (Whissonset) Cross

(Forgot to post this in March ! Better late than never!)





At Whissonsett there is a Saxon cross half as old as the Christian faith.  









At Mileham a striking new east window. 

I wanted to see both so I decided to walk. I'd take in the Coke family memorials at Tittleshall and the deserted village of Godwick on the way and make it a way of the cross.

 In as much as the walk went to plan it was good. The memorials and Godwick village acted as momento mori – reminders of my mortality. The cross and the window (did what all good sacred art does) linked particular times and places to the eternal realities. I particularly like it that Pippa Blackall's stained glass Baptism of Jesus has, in the background , the Lamb of God pastured with Richard Butler-Stoney's Guernsey cows! For all the beauty and meaning of these works of art it was the unplanned elements of the walk that made it a way of the cross. It was such tough going! I had allowed 3 hours to walk the circuit. It took 5! 

I got lost! More than once! The leg between Whissonsett and Mileham where new fields and ditches had been put in and way marks lost was particularly difficult. An Ordinance Survey map and a compass where an absolute necessity. But it was the going underfoot that caused the most delay. Wet Boulder Clay is perilous to walk on (my companion fell twice) and the mud sticks so your boots become as heavy as lead!

On the way I discovered a piece of sacred art that seemed to put everything in context. Leaning against Chancel wall of Tittleshall church, in complete contrast with and next to the grandest of memorials , was a processional cross. Its solid oak shaft pierced by three, splintered bits of wood forming the horizontal. Humble and holy it had been made by someone who knew the value of wood and the cost of nails!

It reminded me of my own jagged bits of brokenness and the call to follow not just up the aisle but to Golgotha and beyond . In Mileham's east window the newly baptised Jesus embraces his new life, and prefigures his own death, with arms wide open.


I trace the sign of the cross on my forehead, remember my own baptism into Christ's death and resurrection and wondered if I dare to walk in the way of the cross?




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