From our Chaplain Canon Graham Bettridge.
Direction of travel
The Continuing Journey of life.
The passport control officer at Leeds Bradford said to me, “Change! its changing by the hour” as we expressed surprise on our return to a different country of fear and suspicion, having left it ten days before in a fairly ‘at ease’ state with itself. It is said of today that we are living in uncertain times. It may be more true to say that the unpredictability of life has been brought into high focus.
Two small pictures I offer:
The Roman road between Hutton in the Forest and the Fortress City of Carlisle is classically straight but very uncertain. Two warning signs repeatedly engage the traveller; ‘Beware Blind Summit’ and its counter sign ‘Caution Hidden Dip’.
The agony of the tragedy of the plague that besets the world at this moment is undeniable and draws on all our human and divine strength to respond to. The hidden dips of the fresh implications of the virus can engulf us and the blind summits become an ever present challenge.
In my little study at home hangs an engraved print it shows an old horse a lot worn out and slow of gait; she carries a priest, wearing riding boots and a gown that had seen better days. On his head is a Good Shepherd hat and he carries a crop and a bible. The date is sometime in the 1700s and it is the Title is ‘A Journeyman Parson going on Duty’ that intrigues me. The road he is travelling is just passing the Chequerboard Inn and a robust mine host in apron with a tankard of ale, backed up by two or three merry customers watch the parson’s slow progress.
A journeyman worked for his pay, a day at a time. The journey being the day’s travel and his work being what ever befell him by way of opportunity. A prayer or a blessing, helping with disputes, offering healing words and the odd medicament or whatever was needed. He would travel in the believe that sufficient recompense would come his way to pay for a night’s lodging at the end of his journey. He travelled in faith and hope.
The roads he and his faithful companion travelled would be familiar to drover and Roman Centurion alike, architects of our green lanes and straight, direct ways between two points. The latter gave us the route but also the distance by marching at a regular pace of 120 steps to the minute; at this rate an estimated time of arrival could be arrived at. A day’s measurement could be made and this proved to be accepted distance for the day’s march. And for Roman soldier or sheep drover or you and me a day is all we can deal with. This journeyman took his name from the events of the day, a chronicle of these would give the name ‘journal’: a name for an account of the happenings of the day.
In these strange unmeasurable times we are now living through I find these two signs come alive with a fresh meaning. We could do much worse than follow the example of our Journeyman Parson and live each day to its best and travel with faith and hope.
Graham W Bettridge
Hon. Chaplain, Parcevall Hall