William Morgan – Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant

Will Tŷ Mawr, not William Morgan but the former custodian of the house that saw William Morgan (Esgob) to birth: As we sat in his kitchen at Wybrnant he recalls ‘they keep bringing us bibles – what do we want with them here? And I’m, taken to the old parlor where a large cupboard stands; it is full of bibles.  Family bibles, and bibles in all languages.  When Will says he doesn’t want their old bible they often say “Well, what should I do with it then?” To which he would reply “Read it.”  And so it begins. 

“O Deuwch i’r dyfroedd, bob un y mae syched arno, ie, yr hwn nid oes arian ganddo; deuwch, prynwch, a bwytewch; ie, deuwch, prynwch win a llaeth, heb arian, ac heb werth.”  Eseia 55:1 yn ôl y BWM

 

William Morgan. Neither first nor last of his trade

Like a drop in the ocean, the one drop that starts 

the overflow from the Wybrnant to the sea

of the institution, the establishment and yet

Independent at heart.   Time to rise up.

Can any good come out of Penmachno?

Deuwch i’r dyfroedd a gweld.

And the waters continue to flow from the hills into the sea.

 

Those waters overflowed the bowl on our inauguration day – Bro Gwydyr Ministry Area of the forest, rivers, valleys and hills.  The waters we poured into a bowl, brought and poured by members of each community, overflowed and tumbled to the ground symbolic of the overflowing grace poured out for us, for our communities laid up by those on whose shoulders we stood that day at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant reading from the book in the language of the common folk. A language set down creates a new beginning and a new place of departure.  A humble beginning. But what beginning is not.  And so we walk humbly in pilgrimage each year from St. Tudclud, sacred home of ancient stones to wybrnant, nestled in the quiet valley between Penmachno and Dolwyddelan a place of birth, of baptism for us for William Morgan whose name would become an icon behind which the people of Cymru would rally. Icon of independence, language, culture, society.  With the language they (the monarchy) tried to break and tame those difficult folk in the west, yet the poetic language of the William Morgan bible became the call to rise to stand apart, we will not conform. The establishment always underestimated, always, what a bible could do in the language finally understood of its hearers a book heady with dissent with liberation for those who are oppressed and the Cymru heard the voice of salvation in their mother tongue and rallied to its cry.  They say it began the revolution, but the real moment, the catalyst: a cross, generations before had waited out its revelation.  Morgan’s contribution of the saying of the sages and the wisdom of the prophets laid bare for all to read and hear.  No longer cloaked in a hidden language, now voiced as a new birth, as an overflowing of the waters.

What are you looking for?

Jesus said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. (John 1:29-42)
What are you looking for? Well, I could write a list and it would probably be quite mundane. My keys. (Always my keys.) The pen that I just had. That piece of paper I just put down.  It might even be funny if it wasn’t so often that I’m now half convinced there isn’t a conspiracy of some sort to move what I just had when I step out of a room. What are you looking for?  Not an easy question to answer once you’ve exhausted the immediate.

Did Andrew and his companion know what they were looking for? We are not told, but they ask: Where are you staying? It’s one of those questions you ask, it’s an everyday question, benign, redundant and fills an awkward silence. I find myself asking it of visitors, silently criticising myself for not being more original in the asking. I ask it along with Where are you from? and What are you doing here?, (in terms of activity, not why on earth did you come to this place.) They are the empty questions. Useful for Jesus as it turns out as he filled the space with an invitation. Because if Jesus had replied like most visitors reply, oh we’re staying at such and such a place. Oh that’s a lovely place. Good food, great view of the lake. Have a good stay, bye… No, Jesus turns the superficial question into an invitation, come and see. Always the invitation. It cuts through the simple question and invites the beginning of a relationship based not on a few words spoken in passing, seldom to be met again, but with the prospect of getting beyond the superficial.

Sometimes we forget what we’re looking for.
Sometimes we forget we’re looking.

Every act, a bold venture or a mindless chore, is seeking something, expecting something. What? What are you hoping for? What do you need?
Are you looking in the right place?
What is it that you want? (No not that)  What is it that you want more than that? And now once more, even more than that, what is it that you are looking for? Search for that and let the rest go. (Steve Garnaas-Holmes www.unfoldinglight.net)

So, what am I looking for? This January during Epiphany. I’m looking for moments of beauty, for love for hope, depth. For that which draws us as a nation and as a church community together. For the words to express that which words cannot express. Looking for those rare moments that speak of that of which we cannot speak, and to find the words to share them. For the experience of that which is beyond our ordinary experience. I’m looking, this epiphany time for a moment in the company of Jesus to be able to recognise the Christ and I’m looking, still looking to understand what that might mean. And I’m Failing magnificently at it.  But I’m always looking and waiting for the invitation once again to come and see and to find the courage to ask the question, What are you looking for? And to offer that invitation, come and see. And then in company to take the first steps to begin anew to discover something of the depth of love, and of hope and of beauty of which the gospels speak so timelessly.

Solstice Pilgrims


Emmanuel, come.
Mary. Emmanuel. This fourth Sunday of Advent at the solstice, the shortest of days in the year when we yearn for the the light to return as others suffer the dire consequences of too much heat. The injustice of it all. And I feel like switching it all off and not knowing, but then I too become disconnected. And we yearn for connection. We bear each others pain in the knowing and the sharing. Who bore your pain Mary? Did Joseph? Encouraged by the angel in the gospel of Matthew to not ‘do the righteous thing’ but to do the dangerous thing to stand by her. Yes. She’s pregnant. And no, Joseph, It isn’t yours. What would we do? How many women will we stand by who are like Mary this Advent. How many women will we empower this advent as we support Christian Aid to enable them to help themselves out of poverty? What did Joseph do? He offered a gift of legitimacy. In a culture of shame upon women who were pregnant out of marriage he offered a home and a place for Mary to be secure. Will we do the same to those who are branded as illegitimate or foreign or different in some way. What would we give for such security for those women around the world who live in fear of tomorrow because of the situation they find themselves in. And yet, Mary chose her path, knowing it was more than her own life. Mary, Jospeh, then Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Our companion on the way. Knowing that somehow perhaps those choices and actions, however small at that moment would change things for the future. In that moment of knowing, the light begins to shine out of the darkness. It works so well in the northern hemisphere. Where the nights are long and light is at a premium. So yesterday in the meagre short hours of light we walked, unhurried along a path. Squandering those precious hours of light simply walking in the company of others, offering ourselves to each other as companions on the way carrying each other for a time. At this darkest moment of the year our expectation grows and our Advent waiting is almost done.

As the light fades on this shortest of days
May we who have walked to the turn of the earth
dwell in the company of brightness
With winter’s shrouded colours born of waiting
in anticipation of the light that is to come.
May we return to this moment when the darkness
closes in and be cradled as in candlelight
encouraged as by bird song
a haunting vespers which invades
our inner silence and calls companions
and friends together out towards the light.