I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now, disguised as everything.
© Malcolm Guite from Sounding the Seasons,
Canterbury Press 2012 www.malcolmguite.com
I began my morning prayer with this sonnet by Malcolm Guite. In it, I heard the wonderful truth that God is the source of my becoming.
After I returned from my retreat at Queen of Peace monastery, I felt conflicted and unsettled, despite having had many sweet encounters with Jesus in my prayers.
In spiritual direction, I described the joyous, committed way of life and worship of the Dominican nuns. Their beautiful desire to be wholly God’s included a willingness to humble themselves, beat their breasts and ask forgiveness for the sins that were “my fault, my own grievous fault.”
I attended mass and sung prayers daily in the stunning sanctuary, but I wasn’t drawn in.
“I felt like I didn’t belong there,” I told my director.
I knew this was significant, but I didn’t know why until I sat with this poem and a memory returned from my retreat.
In one of my prayers, I was with Mary at the Annunciation. After Angel Gabriel left, Mary and I marvelled that God was coming to save everything.
I said, “God’s going to save the rich and the poor, the outcast and the proud, our nation, our families. . .”
“And you too,” Mary added.
I was perplexed and astonished. God has already saved me and God is still saving me.
Now I know why I felt conflicted. The sisters’ ardent devotion somehow led me to believe that I was responsible for my transformation. If I’m not the person I should be, then who’s to blame? Certainly not God.
I’d begun to wonder if I’d missed out on so much more in life because of my sin, my stubbornness, my pride.
But that morning, the Spirit told me not to give it another thought. I cannot thwart God’s good work. I can trust that, in Christ, I’m becoming my true self.
How is it that I can be told what I already know and my throat throbs and tears come as if I’ve never heard it before?
I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks over the good news that Jesus is saving me and he’s doing it perfectly.
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Malcolm Guite’s work and presence is inspiring and impacting the world. Malcolm is a priest, chaplain, and teacher at the University of Cambridge. He’s also a poet and singer-songwriter. His publications include What do Christians Believe? (Granta 2006); Faith, Hope and Poetry (Ashgate 2010, paperback 2012); Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year (Canterbury 2012); The Singing Bowl: Collected Poems (Canterbury 2013); Waiting on the Word (Canterbury 2015); and Parable and Paradox (Canterbury 2016).