10th May – Nicky Seabright


Recently, I have been involved in a number of anniversaries, celebrations and farewells. All these occasions mark the passing of time, and offer us both a chance for reflection and thanksgiving for the past, and also an opportunity to look to the future.

The Hereford Ringing Course marked its 60th anniversary this year. Its lasting success is a tribute to so many, but to the Moreton family in particular, founded as it was in 1963 by Wilf Moreton, and now passed down to the next generations. Those 60 years hold many stories: there are individual and personal ones, and the ones closely connected with the course and the amazing people who have become dear friends: there are so many stories of the course itself – successes and failures, laughter and tears, births and deaths, colourful characters we have had to bid farewell but who are forever in our memories.

Each person present at the course in this anniversary year, the youthful, the not-so youthful and everyone in between, brought stories – personal ones, family ones, ringing ones, and many, many more. Our stories are unique, yet bound together by our common bond of ringing, and when we met together at the course, we listened to each other’s stories, sharing hopes and dreams and memories. Stories are the way we join different parts of our lives together to make some sort of sense of the whole.

There have been celebrations of long-lasting marriages, reunions and funerals, all of which bring together family and friends – people with whom we’ve journeyed at different stages of our lives, all of whom form and shape us and contribute in one way or another to our becoming to people we are, and who often mean so very much to us. As at the Ringing Course, these gatherings were full of stories shared and memories re-lived.

Our stories, personal and communal, family and ringing, grow different strands and gain depth as we journey through life together. Companions join us, some who travel with us for many years, others we encounter as our paths come together then diverge again, but rarely do we travel alone. During the Easter season in church, we hear of the disciples’ encounters with the risen Christ in the weeks following the resurrection – one such encounter happens as two shocked and bewildered disciples leave Jerusalem for Emmaus, and are joined on the road by Jesus himself. In their grief and despair at the death of their leader and the loss of all their hopes, they fail to recognise Jesus until their eyes are opened at their evening meal together where he breaks the bread.

As we look back and tell stories, we may notice that many of our memories revolve around hospitality and shared meals – times we shared in companionship (a word which literally means the sharing of bread together) with friends and family. This is particularly true for ringers, I find, as eating and drinking together often seems as important as the ringing itself. Wherever and whenever we meet together, when we share stories, offer support, understanding and love for each other, God will be with us. The story of the disciples on the Emmaus Road is the story of the God who journeys with each and every one of us and is one of the most reassuring and hopeful post-resurrection stories. This is the God who makes himself known in the breaking of bread – both in the Eucharist which we may share Sunday by Sunday, and in our relationships and our companions on life’s journey.

May we all know the presence, the love and the hope of our risen, living God as we travel into the future together.

The Reverend Prebendary Nicky Seabright

Honorary Priest and Hospital Chaplain, Diocese of Hereford.