NaPoMo poetry party.18


Malcolm Guite describes himself as “…a poet first of all. That’s a conversation killer. I’m a poet, priest, rock & roller, in any order you like, really. I’m the same person in all three.” In a 2016 interview with Lancia E. Smith, Lancia says of Dr. Guite, “he reminds us again and again with intelligence, beauty and skill that we are not dead yet. It seems with every passing day that we need that reminder the more greatly.” Today is no exception.

I’m just delighted to be spending time with you, Malcolm, albeit long distance as you are currently based in Linton near Cambridge, England. You have brought us a new poem, and a new song that arrived to you just yesterday. Brilliant! Welcome to day 18 of our 30 day poetry party. And to all the good folk that have dropped in to meet you, welcome.

You can connect with Malcolm and learn more about his books and work through his blog and his new youtube channel. His most recent book, After Prayer, is published by Canterbury Press and available here.

Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Malcolm: Yes, the time I don’t spend traveling and attending meetings has become available for the deeper part of my vocation which is to try and serve the muse, to make poems which are as true and as beautiful as I am able to make them. Doing that needs time to read, listen and think, as well as time to write.

Lesley-Anne: Why is art important?

Malcolm: To answer that question, whatever kind of answer I gave, might be to suggest that Art has to be useful, to serve some end other than itself. But human art has no more purpose than God’s art. God did not bring creation into being because he needed it, but because it was a glorious thing and he wanted it to be there – he delighted in it and called it good, good in itself, not good for something else. I feel the same way about art.

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Malcolm: I picked up my guitar and wrote a new song – suddenly, just like that -something I haven’t done for years.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and these new creations.

Blessings and continued health and peace,

The Risen Jesus Greets His Disciples  (John 20:19)

We bolted every door but even so
We couldn’t catch our breath for very fear:
Fear of their knocking at the gate below,
Fear that they’d find and kill us even here.
Though Mary’s tale had quickened all our hearts
Each fleeting hope just deepens your despair:
The panic grips again, the gasping starts,
The drowning, and the coming up for air.

Then suddenly, a different atmosphere,
A clarity of light, a strange release,
And, all unlooked for, Christ himself was there
Love in his eyes and on his lips, our peace.
So now we breathe again, sent forth, forgiven,
To bring this breathless earth a breath of heaven.

My guitar in my hands

When I pick up this old guitar
My mind and soul are free
For every song I ever sang
Will keep me company
My songs can sail me out to sea
Or trek the desert sands
I roam through time and space at will, 
My guitar in my hands

They sent me word three weeks ago
That I should stay at home
To help protect the NHS
I may no longer roam
But that’s all right, this magic box
Lifts me to other lands
And brings me safely home again,
My guitar in my hands

With a guitar in your hands my friends
You’ll never be alone
You can ride the wind with the angel band 
Your can roll with the rolling stones
You can sing your sorrows loud and clear
You can bring your blessings home
Those six strings summon all to hear
So you’ll never be alone

I’’ll be off to West Virginia
Soon as this song takes hold
Where the pickers were as poor as dirt
But all their songs were gold
I’m back there with the Carters now
And all those old time bands
They’ll keep me company tonight
With guitars in their hands

From the days of ancient Greece my friends,
When Homer smote his lyre,
To the studios of Nashville
Where the best are up for hire,
From the pubs and clubs of Dublin
To Scotland’s silver strands
You join a mighty company
With a guitar in your hands

With a guitar in your hands my friends
You’ll never be alone
You can ride the wind with the angel band 
Your can roll with the rolling stones
You can sing your sorrows loud and clear
You can bring your blessings home
Those six strings summon all to hear
So you’ll never be alone

This lockdowns locks give way to me
They open with a pick
Three simple chords can set me free
It’s such an easy trick
So I’ll stay home to save more lives
I’ll meet all their demands
Until we meet again my friends
With guitars in our hands.


This too is my Lenten journey…


I sat alone in a small Anglican country church yesterday morning, a church outside my Evangelical experience in many ways, and yet the same. The gathering was intimate with less than 50 people of all ages. There was a raw celebratory nature to the scripture readings, prayers and congregational responses, and a contrast between the darkly translucent shroud over the Lord’s table and the minister’s white robes.

I was drawn to look at the back of the old wooden pew in front of me, and I saw there in pencil two names and a date, 1934, with no attempt to remove it, no attempt to cover it up. A sense of the rootedness and historical context of this particular church grew strong within me. The arched windows of the church opened up to the fields beyond, the creek with its long lines of poplars just leafing into whispy greenness, the fields prepared for planting and irrigating. I began to cry, sensing my life of faith opening up and bringing me to a new and unusual place of belonging, yet not quite belonging. And sensing God’s presence in spite of my wandering.

We sang old hymns I knew by heart, parts coming back to me from my Church of God childhood, my descant voice leaking from my lips like an old language I have not forgotten. And all else that leaked in those moments, the memories of being left out, a girl pricking me with a pin in the back row of my childhood church, the never being asked on a date by a church boy… ever, being an elder’s daughter and what needs be borne in this unique role, and finally, all the eyes and backs of those who had loved me my whole life turning away when I was excommunicated for marrying outside the faith, for marrying a good Catholic boy.

Yet, here I was, so many years later and drawn to some of the very things I have not experienced since my childhood, a small group of believers gathered around an altar in solemn and sacred remembrance, sharing a hymn sheet, the immediate sense of community, how the minister knew my name after only one visit, and blessed me, and hugged me. And how it feels to sit in a simple wooden pew and hear it creaking beneath me when I adjust my position, stand up for the holy scripture readings and sit to pray.

The liturgy is new to me, but comforting in its wholeness, what is known and what is carried out. The call upon the people to speak aloud at specific times and in specific ways is engaging. There are commonalities here, and a sense of coming full circle to where I first began only in a completely different way. The doctrine remains as yet unpacked, and the questions on certain topics as yet unanswered. All in due time.

There was no benediction hymn this Good Friday service and it ended with a solemn and silent leaving of the sanctuary. But I remember last Sunday morning, when we sang without instrument, the old church filling to the rafters with Oh God From Whom All Blessings Flow, the harmony of voices, the sense of holy.
May your Easter be blessed by the knowledge of God’s presence and peace no matter your circumstance or location. God is love. God is.