Posts Tagged ‘#malcolmguite’

My first memories of Palm Sunday were as a young child, on a bright Sunday morning, in my grandmother’s church, deep in the rural woodlands on Canada’s East Coast. The children of the Sunday School were each given a palm branch. At a designated point in the Sunday service we were to walk from back to front and back again in the sanctuary, waving our branches and saying

“Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”

The congregation smiled encouragingly. Then the pastor instructed all to join in our joyful, hope-filled announcement.

Shortly after, the service ended and we all went home.

Palm branches and excitement over the arrival of a man, a king, on a donkey all but forgot.

This is what Palm Sunday is … excitement then apathy, it is the height of the people’s love for this king, yet it leads to the hardest week for Him, as he walked the road to sacrifice so as to provide the way for the greatest height for us.

This triumphal entry, parallels, yet so different from his pilgrimage on the Path of Sorrows (Via Dolorosa) to Calvary. This trek, leading from his place of torture and sentencing, to his place of death. No palm branches, no joyful, hope-filled exclamations from the crowds in the street.

Today, Palm Sunday, joyful and hope-filled as it was, as it is, is a window into the fickleness of our human race. In less than a week, those who followed him went from

“blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord!”


“crucify him”

We, who follow him today, are not that different.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of the end, of the beginning. We must check our cheers of hallelujah today … ensuring that our joy in Him lasts longer than this day. For darkness will come into each of our lives and we will need this King to save us.

A Sonnet for Palm Sunday
Malcolm Guite

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;

They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,

And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find

The challenge, the reversal he is bringing

Changes their tune. I know what lies behind

The surface flourish that so quickly fades;

Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,

The hardness of the heart, its barricades,

And at the core, the dreadful emptiness

Of a perverted temple. Jesus come

Break my resistance and make me your home.


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IMG_0011As I perused the written and photographic materials for my gifted trip of a lifetime, my imagination was ignited when I saw the ariel image of an extensive, hedged driveway. All of a sudden my dream had focused from the macro of being in Italy, to the micro of walking of walking this massive pathway.

On my seventh day at the Tenuta Bichi Borghesi estate I finally stepped into the over one hundred and fifty meters of expertly trimmed hedge avenue.

I am not sure why it took me so long! Perhaps, in the deep recesses of my heart, I was afraid that my desires had built up this dream, beyond what it would be like, to wander this private oasis. Perhaps I was simply postponing this personal gift, so as to extend that anticipation. Or, perhaps, I was just too busy taking in all of the preliminary events and pleasures of the estate, it’s fruits, it’s people.

So, on that hot afternoon, I took my first steps into the cool avenue, protected from the glare of the sun.

And I felt it …

bubbling up inside of me,

causing goose bumps to form on my humid skin,

causing my heart to flutter,

causing my legs, my feet, to want to skip,

like a child, inhibited by societies norms and expectations.

Child-like joy.


I spent fifteen minutes walking, skipping, sitting on a marble bench, snapping photos and pausing to breath in the fresh, heady scent of the air, the dirt, the greenery.

I reached the end to find an enormous dual swinging metal gate, that must have been ten feet tall. I felt it’s cool, smooth rungs, and wondered at the hands that formed it with the heat of fire, heavy, pounding tools, and workmanship and skill rarely seen today.


On my return, to where I began, I walked slowly, reverently, uttering only words of thanks for all that I was able to see, to hear, to smell, taste and touch on my gifted opportunity to wander.

Praise makes holy, hallowed, everything in it’s presence.

It was a pilgrimage of praise, on holy (hallowed) ground.

hedge 1

Hallowed by thy Name
There’s something in the sound of the word hallow;
A haunting sense of everything we’ve lost
Amidst the trite, the trivial, the shallow,
Where nothing lingers, nothing seems to last.
But Hallowed, summons up our fear and wonder,
And summons us to stand on holy ground.
To sense the mystery that stands just under
Familiar things we’ll never understand.

Hallowed be thy name: the name unspoken,
The name from which all other names arise,
The name that heals the sick and binds the broken,
Whose living glory calls the dead to rise.
You make this prayer my rising and my rest
That I might bless the name by which I’m blessed.”
Malcolm Guite



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