A hidden path that starts at a dead end,
Old ways, renewed by walking with a friend,
And crossing places taken hand in hand,
The passages where nothing need be said,
With bruised and scented sweetness underfoot
And unexpected birdsong overhead,
The sleeping life beneath a dark-mouthed burrow,
The rooted secrets rustling in a hedgerow,
The land’s long memory in ridge and furrow,
A track once beaten and now overgrown
With complex textures, every kind of green,
Land- and cloud-scape melting into one,
The rich meandering of streams at play,
A setting out to find oneself astray,
And coming home at dusk a different way.
Prayer/Walk by Malcolm Guite
Have you ever discovered a hidden path? They are often obscured by time-woven tangles of briars and thicket, but the joyful surprise that accompanies their discovery quickly diminishes the difficulties. In today’s poem, Malcolm Guite likens this to God’s power in revealing new truth to us through prayer. Where once we saw an impasse, God presents new adventure.
In The Word in the Wilderness, Malcolm writes:
When we begin to pray we have to start where we are, usually just on the surface of our lives; but there is always so much else going on. We all have a familiar outer layer to our lives but are there not also, deeper in our psyche, the burrows and dens where the shyer and more furtive elements of our inner life are rooted and nestling? Might these half-acknowledged parts of ourselves also be brought to God for blessing, noticed a little and offered to him? Do we have longer and deeper memories, perhaps going right back into our family histories, which have, as it were, shaped the landscape of who we are?
What dead-end do you need to bring before God today?
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.
D i g D e e p e r
Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings. For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page.
For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.
Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.