Ralph’s Wife’s Lane

While preaching at Banks near Southport, I was amused to see the name of the road: Ralph’s Wife’s Lane. Who was Ralph? Who was his wife? Rather flaky legends suggest he was a fisherman or smuggler lost at sea, whose wife’s ghost continues the search. Whoever she was, we have her spouse’s name rather than hers. Often in the Bible we have a named man, such as Noah, who marries and has children but whose partner’s name is absent from the text. Whereas feminists will cry misogyny, others will simply point out that it was not necessary to tell the story. Not knowing the woman’s name or character does not deny her role as a second Eve, a mother of all living.

We might learn from Mrs Noah, Jephthah’s daughter, Ichabod’s mother or Mephibosheth’s nurse, to name but a few. Similarly, we might ponder the list of unnamed male figures, such as the man with a withered arm, the widow’s raised son and Cleopas’ fellow traveller. They are known because of another; they are famous because of someone greater. So we too should play down our own foibles, characters, desires and personalities as we submit and yield to the great Christ in whose shadow we willingly dwell:

He must increase, but I must decrease.

If the Banks’ lane were named after me, Christ’s Servant’s Road would be the best name for it.