Of all the poetry I’ve written, this piece is the dearest to me. It has been a faithful companion to me for the past year. One of two I’ve committed to memory. It remains a compass and summary of my journey towards midlife. I’ve never published it before, but felt Spirit nudging me to do so. Nervously, I’m sharing it with the world today, twelve months later. It’s called ‘Ancient Paths’. 

I thought
I could march
through life
guided by nothing
but my own steps.

Careful to only tread
on virgin ground
avoiding former tracks
and braving
unchartered estate.

With the cheer of fans
and the jeer of critics
at my back
I walked on
determined to find new land
and return to accolades
and told-you-so’s.

But strong wind blew
and heavy rain fell
revealing the soil’s secrets.


Traces on traces
from past eras.

Some foot-trails ending
without warning.
Several turning back
on themselves.
Others stalling
at crossroads.
But, all before me.
All around me.

My head sunk
and pride with it.
Fists pounding the earth.
In anguish, I yelled to the Heavens.
‘This can’t be so!’

With a firm, quiet tone
Heaven replied.
‘But, this must be so.
For you are on holy ground.
Made sacred by the footsteps
of forerunners
for you’

Heaven continued.
‘Do you not know
that the very inner fire
which drove you
from the warmth
of your own tribe
was not lit by you,
but by divine desire
and hallowed birthright?’

‘Can you now see that the storms
were a gift to uncover the truth?’

‘…that you were never meant
to forge new paths
on your own.’

‘You were called
to uncover
ancient paths
and be guided
into the way
by me
and a great cloud
of witnesses.

‘Ancient Paths’
by David Tensen

This poem appears in The Wrestle. Poems of Divine Disappointment and Discovery. (2020). Find it here