Author: Bible Society, 2 May 2017
When Dai Woolridge suddenly lost his father to cancer, his response was creative. We caught up with Dai to find out about how this life changing event resulted in creating Prayers, Texts and Tears.
It's a creative response to grief. I think that's how I'd sum it up really. It's trying to share I guess my journey of grief and how I've dealt with it and found God in the tough times. It's quite Psalm-esque, in a way. I try and use poetry to come up with prayers and the end of each chapter I use poems as prayers to talk to God. I also write what I think God is saying back in those moments, so there's very much conversational poetry involved as well as me sharing my story.
About four years ago I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. It was very unexpected, very out of the blue. He lost a lot of weight in a few months, we just thought he was struggling to eat really and to keep weight on but there was a bigger problem. So he unfortunately passed away quite suddenly.
There were about four days when I was down in the hospital by his side and it was a defining moment for me, I think; it really changed me. It was an incredible opportunity to say good bye to my dad, to have a real heart-to-heart, but it was also a heartbreaking time too. I think I came out of that experience with my heart breaking for other people who are journeying through grief.
'Jesus wept' spoke so much hope to me
Grief's not really something you can explain with words – so it's funny that I decided to write a book – but I think my heart was to put into words what is sometimes so hard to express to bring hope to other people going through it. I've done this in my book in a way that really shares my story; where I and open myself up, make myself vulnerable but also try and use my creativity. And to use some light and shade as well, trying to use a bit of humour, because it's a tough subject to talk about. But there are some good moments as well as you remember those you've lost, so the book is trying to capture everything, put it all in a melting pot.
I know I could have turned to the word more, I wish I did in some ways, but there were certain passages of Scripture that really stood out to me and that I clung on to. I think the Psalms were a huge help because they show - especially David in his relationships with God - it's in the highs, it's in the lows, and everything in between. That brought me so much comfort, as David was pouring his heart out to God in every instance. That empowered me really and I felt I had licence to do the same - because God welcomes conversation - so the Psalms have been vital from that perspective.
John 11.35 has been my nugget verse really - 'Jesus wept' – that spoke so much hope to me. Even in the tough times I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel because I knew I wasn't alone, because Jesus had been through it as well. So that's the hope that I found that carried me through, that sustained me, and my hope is to share it with others as well. But Scripture's been huge, yeah.
My first poem was rubbish. It was, 'Little boy had a toy/ because he wanted something to do/ but his mother did not know/ he was blue.' I wish I could say I was six when I wrote that, but I was actually 10. I've still got that poetry book in the house and it's great but I think the journey of poetry really began for me when I went on a year out when I was 18. I got introduced to Rob Lacey, who was a poet-storyteller-communicator and I just loved the way he used words. That helped inspire me really to try and be playful with words.
It’s been so good to be a part of creating our latest Children’s poetry books. I had the privilege of writing The Well Good News of Christmas and The Super Cool Story of Jesus. It’s been a team effort with Emma Randall illustrating and Nick Jones doing the video. I'm so chuffed that they've been well-received, especially with The Super Cool Story of Jesus being the difficult 2nd album. My heart is to tell the story in the hope that it engages people with Scripture so if it's helping then that's great.
I also write and create spoken word videos. It's kind of a cross between rap and poetry so it's kind of halfway house it's a great tool for communicating using rhyme pace rhythm things like that but yeah I love to try and communicate a message in a creative, fresh way and I think spoken word, poetry, creative prose, stuff like that is really good.