Piddingworth Greg Benton
|Honour all men.
Honour the King.
|'This noble and elegant site
is both a tribute to a family's
history, and to a national
heritage.' --Daniel J. Cassidy Sunlit Uplands
|Swifter far than summer's flight --
Swifter far than youth's delight --
Swifter far than happy night,
Art thou come and gone --
As the earth when leaves are dead,
As the night when sleep is sped,
As the heart when joy is fled,
I am left lone, alone.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
|'The Last Walk' by Greg Benton, 2010|
|Let us then move
in discharge of
our mission and
and nothing else.
Sir Winston Churchill
|Stanmer Churchyard, Sussex|
|In the midst of life we are in death:
of whom may we seek for succour,
but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins
art justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord God most holy,
O Lord most mighty, O holy and
most merciful Saviour, deliver us not
into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Burial Office, The Book of Common Prayer
| Dixi, custodiam. Psalm xxxix.
LORD, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; * that I may be certified
how long I have to live.
Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long, and mine age is even as nothing in respect of thee; * and verily every man living
is altogether vanity.
For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain; * he heapeth
up riches, and cannot tell
who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what is my hope? * truly my hope is even in thee.
Deliver me from all mine offences; * and make me not
a rebuke unto the foolish.
When thou with rebukes dost chasten man for sin, thou makest his beauty to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment: *
every man therefore is but vanity.
Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and with thine ears consider
my calling; * hold not thy
peace at my tears;
For I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, * as all my fathers were.
O spare me a little, that I
may recover my strength, * before I go hence, and be no more seen.
|JESUS said, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God,
believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
St. John xiv. 1.
|THE VICAR OF PIDDINGWORTH
1996 - 2010
|Come, ye blessed children of my Father,
receive the kingdom prepared for you from
the beginning of the world. Matthew 25.41
|Through my correspondence with Floyd Block of Wisconsin, a friend of Piddingworth and brother in Christ who served in the United States Air Force, I was reminded of this presentation of 'High Flight' that I remember seeing as a boy in the 1950's at the operning and closing of the day on American television.
Because my family lived near the Pease Air Force Base (Strategic Air Command) in New Hampshire, we were familar with the daily sight of aircraft flying over our house; including those great B-47 and B-52 bombers. The awesome power of these jets carrying nuclear weapons in those tense years of the Cold War vividly remains in my memory. Many of the pilots and air crew and their families lived in our neighbourhood and were our friends.
The poem 'High Flight' was written by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an American who, before the US entered the second world war, chose in 1940 to go north and enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force where he became a Spitfire pilot. Sadly, he was killed in 1941 as the result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire.
This celebrated, moving and even haunting poem continues to express the heart of all those who fly; especially in the air forces of the United States and the Commonwealth.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward Iíve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, ó and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of ó wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovíring there,
Iíve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
Iíve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew ó
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Floyd Block and his wife Nancy have an interesting personal website on Shutterfly and is found here
|The Stones of Piddingworth|
|Over four decades ago, when I was a young postulant and aspirant to the priesthood,
in my youthful enthusiasm, I sought to demonstrate my 'passion'
for the faith and the Church. Visiting what Anglicans refer to as the
'holy hardware shop', I noticed an attractive and artistically interesting metal crucifix.
It was a little larger than those simple kinds of crosses traditionally
given at Confirmation and, by it's size and shape, seemed to suggest a
'deeper' attachment of the wearer, bishops excepted, to a 'higher' calling.
Clearly this was a very 'religious' cross for a very 'religious' person.
Obviously thinking that I fit that category, I bought it.
Fortunately for me, I soon became acquainted with a woman who
would teach me a powerful lesson; one that I can never forget.
This lady certainly was a person of deep faith,, the wife of a distinguished Dutch Reformed
(now Christian Reformed) Minister and in a tradition that is not given to 'outward' signs
and symbols. One Sunday, I was invited by their daughter to attend their Church.
Afterwards we had lunch and later whilst sitting with her and her daughter in their lounge
she asked about the 'chain around my neck'. Eager to share my silly self-anointed religiosity,
I pulled out the crucifix and passed it to her. She quietly examined it and then
returned it to me.
'You know Gregory', she said in her strong Dutch accent with a rather firm
but still gentle tone, 'remember that our Lord wore His Cross on His back'.
Ouch. With the precision of a surgeon's cut, this dear lady punctured
the all-too-familiar inflated illusion that symbols worn reflect the soul within.
As Josť Saramago once said: 'Just as the habit does not make the monk,
the sceptre does not make the king'; and by extension, the jewelled cross
does not make the Christian.
It truly was quite marvellous. That moment remains as poignant to me today as it
certainly was then and it was a lesson in spirituality that I not only needed to learn in
growing up but most importantly to subsequently put into practice.
The Cross upon which our Lord Jesus Christ was executed isn't a pretty thing.
Indeed, it is horribly ugly and cruel and degrading. It's easy to understand
why many people, perhaps expecially people of faith, are uncomfortable
looking up at the crucified Christ. The blood, and torture and agony and
death simply cannot compete with the much more esthetically satisfying
and empty cross of Easter.
Still, the crosses that we see in churches and worn around the necks of people,
though they bear little resemblance to that 'Cross' worn on the back of the Son
of Man, do indeed draw our attention and might inspire us to think of
the sacrifice of Jesus Christfor the sake of the world.
It's one thing to view a little cross worn nicely by those of faith but quite another
to see crosses used merely as a fashion statement often framed by tattoos and
vulgarity. It is in a way a paradox given that the Cross of Christ is the place through
which the sins of world were crushed by God's own judgment and extraordinarily,
where the forgiveness of the Redeemer is so remarkably found.
It is on The Cross of Christ where life and the sufferings of life find their deepest meaning.
It is the greatest symbol of Love; real love; sacrificial love and so is the gateway to a Hope
for the world and to the fulfilment of life for those who believe.The Cross that Jesus of Nazareth
wore on His back (so graphically and brilliantly portrayed
in the film, 'The Passion Of The Christ') was an ugly, tormented place;
dripping with both blood and sweat, pain and anquish. It was
not pretty. It was not 14k gold.
If we remember that the crosses we wear around our neck
are meant to remind us of the Cross that was worn on the back
of the Saviour, we ought also to remember that we too are
called to carry on our backs that same spirit of love and sacrifice
moving us to bring hope, kindness, charity, healing to others.
The cross as an 'adornment' whether around our necks or
even in sanctuaries, is not about 'us'. We often hear some
people refer to these crosses as 'beautiful' which they usually
are...but the real beauty of the cross is the God whose
love for his children is made manifest and the faith of
those who wear it mindful of it's signficance.
Similarly, the manner in which 'people of faith' make the Sign Of The Cross
ought to reflect the power that is the true Cross. The making of that sign
requires more of us and at the very least, calls for due respect...whether
we are saying grace at the table, receiving holy communion, or invoking
the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When we are baptised, we are all marked with the sign of the cross
and so are made Christ's own forever. That's an enormously heavy-duty
branding, for it means that we have been grafted into the life, death and resurrection
of Christ with all it's implications for the way we live; our identity and the fundamental
purpose in life itself.
The Cross then is indelibly grafted into our souls and becomes a part of all that we are...
beginning with our own backs.
GE Benton, Passiontide, 2014
|A medieval reliquary cross|
|Saint Brigid's Cross|