Malcolm Guite’s blog is one of my new discoveries thanks to Twitter, and I’m very much enjoying his Lent entries. I really appreciated his “Prayer Walk” entry yesterday, and encourage readers to go enjoy it in full. I won’t post his poem here, but rather a portion of his reflection on how prayer walking has strengthened his prayer life.
I have noticed how often interesting footpaths and bridleways start just beyond the brambles at the end of tarmacked roads marked ‘dead end’. And it seemed, for me at least, that is very often where prayer starts too. I am sure that prayer should be a first resort, but for me it is sometimes the last resort when I’ve tried everything else! I’ve also noticed that the places in life where I get stuck and come up as it were against a ‘dead end’ sign, are inevitably the important places, the places where there is real stuff to deal with and that is precisely why I get stuck or find it difficult to move forward. Too often one simply shies away from these personal dead-ends and goes for the first diversion (usually Facebook!) to try something easier. But when I’m walking, the opposite is true. It gives me pleasure to walk down the apparent dead-end and find the hidden path where the cars can’t go, strike out across the fields and leave the traffic behind, so I have tried to apply this to my prayer life.
It’s interesting that he mentions George Herbert’s poem “Prayer” as his inspiration for the poem he posted. I too have been reading and reflecting on Herbert’s poem, especially since I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s excellent book on prayer. I’m hopting I’ll find time in the next day or two to post Herbert’s poem and some of Keller’s reflections and insights about it.