Young Ralph's Cross

Last month I drove by Young Ralph’s Cross, on Danby High Moor, which is one of the many standing stones that litter the North Yorkshire Moors. The base and lower and middle shaft-pieces looked medieval, but the cross-head is likely more recent. Various legends are circulated regarding its origin, including an amorous monk and nun who eloped on the spot. More likely, or more pleasantly, Ralph was a farmer who erected the cross at horse height to allow wealthier travellers to leave some coins that the poorer might buy some food. The tale states that Farmer Ralph was appalled at finding an emaciated body at the spot and vowed to do something about it. A groove on the head’s top certainly allows for the leaving of coins, though it is not as convenient to gather them without a horse’s height.

A friend recently described a visit to Cardiff during which he saw masses of workless immigrants sitting around. My heart went out to them. Situated in a wealthy, rural area, Salem Chapel has few desperate locals who need our support, in the physical sense, at least. Though our area is spiritually poor and gospel-starved, its inhabitants are financially well off, settled, contented and fat. The gospel saves souls and gives peace to our spirits, but may we also fill bellies, clothe bodies, cheer minds and shake hands. If young Ralph existed, his cross was put to noble use though it is now hardly needed. One day, there will be no physical needs to meet, so let us take what opportunity is currently given us.

And one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled'; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? James 2:16