The first time Ruth Hammond, founder of the Classy Crafts in Howick, heard a voice calling her name out in the middle of the night, she was nervous. She looked beside her but found her husband fast asleep.
She pulled the duvet over her head, but the voice called three times.
Then a thought entered her mind, ‘Ruth I want you to get up and write.’
Unable to ignore it, she reluctantly got out of bed and started writing at 3am.
“You can’t argue with silence. You don’t win. The writing wasn’t expressed the way I usually speak,” explains Ruth about the strange phenomena that started 30 years ago.
“The next morning I woke up and told my husband that something unusual happened. I thought he would laugh at me but he was visibly moved when he read the inspirational verse.
“Over the following nine months I received 66 writings and noticed that my husband treasured them. He meticulously dated and numbered them. He thought it was something important and was mystified.”
“The writing came to an end after nine months and gave a lot of strength to my husband who was later diagnosed with cancer.”
After his death the writings were locked away in a cupboard for 28 years while Ruth got busy with teaching and then later began jewellery designing.
However in 2014, there was a life-changing moment when time stood still.
“I went to pick up my 44-year-old son Greg for lunch and found him dead in bed.”
But even as Ruth came to terms with his sudden and unexplained death, she found that there was a certain peace and strength that never left her.
“I felt supported. Something told me it was a heart attack though I had to wait for 10 months to get the coroner’s report confirming it.”
Ruth had a calling to resume writing.
In hindsight she thinks that if Greg hadn’t died, the beautifully-presented book entitled `soft whispers… small shouts… deep waters’ would have never happened.
On Mother’s Day her elder son gifted Ruth a coffee table book, ‘The Beautiful Gifting of Art’ by Merrilyn Jaquiery, one of New Zealand’s finest wildlife artists who at times wakes up in the middle of the night with bursts of inspiration to start painting. He urged her to go and meet her.
The women shared their personal experiences and Merrilyn introduced her to a gifted media and graphic designer who had designed her book.
Ruth had 2000 books published of her personal conversations with God.
“I repeatedly said, ‘What do I do with 2000 books?'”
“One day, the thought came into my mind, “I want you to give them to prisoners.”
“Well, I didn’t know anyone remotely associated with prisons and wondered how I could possibly achieve what I believed I was being nudged to accomplish.”
Two weeks after the thought, a new minister to the church, a former chaplain at the Spring Hills Correction Facility, introduced Ruth to chaplains at prisons for women. They placed an order of 880 books.
She was also inspired to start writing another book, ‘Being with God’.which the regional NZ chaplains approved as a gift to prisoners. To date 3500 copies have been requested and distributed.
“It’s not as if I need to sit in a quiet place to write. At one time we had almost 14 people together for a Christmas lunch when the words just flowed.
“I don’t mince my words and neither does God,” she laughs. “I once tried to grammatically correct a sentence and I was firmly told to leave it the way it was.”
Books available at Classy Crafts and online at www.softwhispersbook.co.nz