As High as the Clouds...

the story behind the book


I wrote my first poem 25 years ago, out of the blue, in the middle of a busy day at work.
It was not a deeply spiritual one. It went:

  Sitting in the clinic
  Rows and rows of tums
  Hope to be by April
  Rows and rows of Mums

"Goodness!" I thought, "I'm a poet!"
It happened just after my first husband walked out. My neatly planned world had hit a wall.
I fell through space but landed on a Rock - the loving strength of God. The poetry seemed to come in response to this crisis. Sometimes it was for fun. Sometimes it expressed my experience, but it also often met the need of friends.

After a while I put some of the poems, together with my father's photos, into a handmade booklet.
I took the title from a verse in the Bible:

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens
  your faithfulness to the skies.
    Psalm 36 verse 5

Fifteen years later in 1989, to my surprise, I remarried and gained two cheerful stepchildren, Stephen and Catherine. Life became too busy for poetry but, in our second year, Stuart was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Once more my world stopped. The old book came out of the cupboard as yet again I found God to be my Rock. I believed He had not made a mistake, but to be honest, I did not expect any miracles. However, with ups and downs, the "weeks" we were told to expect lengthened to months and then years. The doctors used the word "bizarre". We just knew that God was being very good to us.

'His faithfulness reaches to the clouds'

Looking for a diversion in the early years, when I was home a lot with Stuart, I joined an art group at the Yorkshire Art Circus. They combine art, creative writing, computing and publishing under one roof. I began to see the possibility of publishing my long-written book, at first in a photocopied form but then (taking a deep breath!) with a local printer under the imprint P.RAY BOOKS. (We thought it sounded suitably religious!)

On the day it went to press in 1996, another Bible verse in the book took on a new meaning:

...and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33 verse 27

My enthusiastic stepson biked wildly down a Yorkshire hill in the dusk, crashed into the wall of a bridge and fell eight metres on to the solid rock of a stream bed.
His neck was badly broken, but the angels must have been on duty that night, as he survived without any lasting damage.

Stuart went on to live a furthur seven happy and productive years, finally going home to be with Jesus in February 2003. He saw both children graduate, and, despite physical tiredness, remained mentally and spiritually healthy to the very end. He had a vision for this book going out free, and saw the start of a big response to our offer from hospital chaplaincies around the country. 20,000 have now been printed.

At Stuart's funeral, we sang 'Great is Thy faithfulness' and 'Shine Jesus Shine'.

So God's love and faithfulness was our experience
through day and night, dark and light.

May He bless you as He blessed us.

He knows what He is doing.

Pat Wray