Highest Heaven

It’s been a little over a year since I sat through the night in A&E with both my parents. What followed was hours and hours of sitting beside hospital beds.

I’ve said before that most people wouldn’t know my dad as a singer, but for me, his singing is what I remember best about him. For many Salvationists the song book sits beside the Bible and is a part of their worship and for dad the words of the hymns and choruses were especially important.

Lockdown brought a lot of pain, not being allowed to see my parents, my parents not being allowed to see each other, and their eventual promotions to Glory.

Before they got ill I had been working on a quilt with the words of Dads favourite song, ‘O Boundless Salvation’ embroidered into it.

O Boundless Salvation quilt

I finished the quilt and it sat on dads bed in the hospital for a little while before the lockdown forced me to remove it.

Before Lockdown I had sat with dad on several occasions and sang his many favourite songs to him. I had also started adding words to hymns and choruses to images I had drawn and had some printed out for dad to read in hospital. I hoped that though I was unable to be with him, he could read the words and see my sketches and know my heart was with him.

I’m not alone in ending 2020 in grief, nor am I alone in starting 2021 in further grief of friends.

Many of us have lost so much in the past 12 months and many of us have more to come, and the sense of loss, whether from family and friends or from employment and opportunities will be long-lasting.

On the whole, I’ve been strong, but as I started the week learning of another friends passing I realised I had lost more friends and family in the past 12 months than I had in the whole of my life. I found myself falling into depression and struggling to find the strength or will to pull myself out.

And then, after a few days of inactivity, the words of an old Salvation Army chorus came to me and what my dad had instilled in me throughout my life, came into effect. I started singing…

Prayer gently lifts me to highest Heaven,
From Earth’s confusion to Jesus’ breast;
My sin and weakness, my doubt and sorrow,
Are lost forever in sweetest rest.

I could add a video of a talented pianist playing the tune, or an arrangement by an Army band, but I found this video, it’s how I think it should be sung, not in great skill and show, but humbly and in quietness.

And suddenly I realised what I’d been missing, I’ve been carrying all this weight on my shoulders and forgetting to lay it at the feet of Jesus in prayer.

I created a sketch some time ago, but hadn’t found the right words to it, but the chorus fitted so perfectly.

To Highest Heaven

I’ve been working on having my artwork professionally produced onto cards for a long time. It’s helped me, it helped my dad, and perhaps sending hymns and my artwork can help others.

It’s taken a long time, I’ve been worrying whether others will feel the same way I do about the cards. However, after again finding strength from the words of the chorus this week I emailed the printers and I’m going ahead with producing cards.

Below are just 2 of the cards I’ll be producing.

Prayer gently lifts me
In His time

I hope others will find the comfort through hymns and choruses as much as my dad did, and as much as I have done.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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