Durham Cathedral at Dawn

Added about 3 months ago by David Grieve

GUEST BLOG: When poetry inspires painting – David Grieve, author of Love in Thin Places, tells us about a beautiful gesture from one of his readers.

I was recently the speaker at a breakfast meeting with other men from Easington Deanery in Durham Diocese, talking for a few minutes about my life and ministry as a priest and how I’ve experienced the depths of depression and anxiety and the grace of God within it by, among many other things, writing poetry.

Sacristy Press has published two slim poetry collections of mine, one about depression – Hope in Dark Places – and more recently, Love in Thin Places, about Durham Cathedral and how I’ve found God’s grace to be so real and present there. Those who are familiar with this second book will know the beauty and power of the cover image, which often draws admiration and is a wonderful way in to the book. I was able to sell a few copies of each.

As I was finishing my talk, I saw Bob, one of the group, fetch a carrier bag and come up to the front. I took it as my cue to stop, and gave the floor to him. Bob’s been an artist all his life, and has painted for 71 years. He showed us his beautiful painting of Durham Cathedral based on the book cover. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, and there is some distortion due to light reflected off the glass. But the painting is the artist’s own prayerful interpretation and therefore all the more special. Some of the intentions within it include the hand-shaped tree branches reaching up to heaven, with one which points down towards the Cathedral as a source of God’s blessing, and the twelve birds in flight towards the right, hardly visible here, represent the historic faith handed down from the Apostles, to which the Cathedral has been a witness for over 900 years. His fingers, he said, are getting too achy to paint, so this is the last one he’ll do. It was so moving to see the painting and to hear all that Bob had to say. And then he presented it to me! I can’t describe my surprise and joy, but if one form of art inspires another then something has been done well.


David Grieve is an Anglican priest, married with three grown-up children, who retired in 1989 at the age of 37 due to a breakdown. He writes poetry as both therapy and vocation. David currently volunteers as a chaplain at Durham Cathedral, and is married to Jane, who is also a priest. He has had poetry published on many topics, including faith, health and vocation. Check out his books published by Sacristy Press here.


Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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