Inner Circle


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Yesterday, a lovely young woman approached me and, with some embarrassment, passed me a note. The note said that she had wanted to say “hello” to me all year but that every time I came close, her anxiety levels went through the roof, leaving her paralysed and feeling rather silly. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her that her note meant more to me than if she had given me a bag full of cash. We made our first resolution for 2017. Every time we see each other, we’ll take a second to step into each other’s face, and say, “Hi”.

The most surprising thing about this time of year is that it actually surprises me. This past week or so has been as tough as we ever see it. For people who are lonely and struggling with demons, the Christmas season is the hardest time of the year. It’s a season of screaming. It's the season of overdose and psychosis. It’s bizarre because it comes in the context of well-wishing and exchanging of gifts. Raised voices have been a constant accompaniment to life at Wayside this week. I’ve seen fist fights. I’ve seen arguments between a person and a power pole. I’ve seen someone trying to make love to a tree. I know I’m a Christian minister and that I ought to be towing the company line at this time of year but honestly, I could do without all the heartache.

The kind of religion I understand is the religion of our team on the frontline. All week they have stood beside people who’ve completely lost their composure. A woman who I know to have some struggles with mental health issues was thrown off balance by all the other drama in the air. Something offended her, causing both screaming and laughing together that could have been the soundtrack of a horror movie. Our people stood beside her, loving her and giving her room. Suddenly she found more moisture than I thought a human mouth could find and she spat it all over our beautiful John in the Community Services Centre. It’s an image I won’t forget in a hurry. It was an image that leaves our “Joy to the world” and “Silent Night” songs seeming ridiculous and yet it is an image of real love – not love defined as feelings of any kind, but love that will pay any price and bear any humiliation. It is an image of love that sees more in someone than any of the facts presented in the moment. That’s my religion and John is one of my leading saints. This is the team that is the focus of our Christmas Appeal and I’m passionate to provide all they need. Right now, we’re at the mercy of our supporters and at this moment, it’s not looking great. If you can afford a little to help, please donate here.

Earlier this year, I married two of our staff members, Laura and Simon, here at Wayside with a lovely service where the homeless sat side-by-side with friends, family and staff as we celebrated a true moment of community. I’m pleased to say that Laura and Simon will be welcoming a little addition into the world early next year which means we now have the task of filling Laura’s role of Head of Marketing and Fundraising for a 12-month maternity contract. We’re looking for someone who can oversee the strategic direction, growth and integration of all marketing, fundraising and communication activities, and play a crucial role as a member of the Executive Team in leading the implementation of Wayside’s strategy. If you, or someone you know, is interested in the role, you can find out more here.

Christmas Day will soon arrive and no doubt, we’ll be captured by the awesome. There’ll be a church service with carol singing in the street at 10.30am, with a party and lovely lunch to follow at 12.30pm. By about 1.30pm, the street will be filled with neighbours, street dwellers, older people who are alone and all comers, who will be dancing together in the street. Even if you don’t have a voluntary role, you are most welcome to show on the day and bring a smile and be prepared to talk to people. You will be part of a miracle.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor

Previous Inner Circles


8 December: Soul Restorer

1 December: Holy Ground

24 November: Opening Presence for Christmas

17 November: On Our Best Behaviour For a Day

10 November: A Seismic Shift

3 November: Outcomes by Accident

27 October: Wow! Look How Far You've Come

20 October: Moving Toward Our Destiny

13 October: A Tribute

06 October: Risk and Sacrifice

29 September: Wisdom in Unconventional Places

22 September: It's What We Do at Wayside

15 September: The Joy of Being Wrong

8 September: Turning Toward Love

1 September: The Power of Weakness

25 August: Words as weapons

18 August: Wattle become of us

11 August: Precious and fragile

4 August: A wave from Wayside

28 July: Understanding bedlam

21 July: Time for some straight talking

14 July: Holy ground

7 July: Sowing in tears, reaping with shouts of joy

30 June: A bit of banter about Bondi

23 June: My cup runneth over

16 June: Injecting some joy

9 June: At the end of the line

2 June: Lots of perspiration and a touch of inspiration

26 May: Swimming against the tide

19 May: Every 7 days but not weakly

12 May: I once was blind

5 May: A place to belong

28 April: Lest we forget

21 April: I've seen into the abyss

14 April: Colourful language

7 April: Poetic licence

31 March: Happy in the Cross

24 March: Easter

17 March: A party mix

10 March: The intimacy of everything

3 March: An unusual look

25 February: He ain't heavy

18 February: Tears of laughter and sadness

11 February: Wisdom is a tricky business

4 February: A wave from The Wayside Chapel

28 January: Some long distance loving

21 January: No time for judgement


17 December: Last note for 2015

10 December: Sanity Clause if coming to town

3 December: It's all about the presence

26 November: The joy of not knowing

19 November: The curse of perfectionism

12 November: To speak is to act

5 November: My cup runneth over

29 October: Prophet and loss

22 October: Finding yourself in a magical team

15 October: A silly question

8 October: Surprised by the joy

1 October: Being dead right

24 September: A day by the Wayside

17 September: It's a gold rush

10 September: The psychology of onions

3 September: Life comes from without

27 August: Surprised by the beautiful

20 August: Light shining through the cracks

13 August: A matter of balance

6 August: Recognising a gift

30 July: Your weakly note

23 July: 'A thing' from the Wayside

16 July: The future is calling

9 July: In love with some Dame

2 July: Better days ahead

25 June: Something funny, something beautiful

18 June: Seeing what's there

11 June: Amazing mates

4 June: There's a time and a place

28 May: The weight and the joy of being a neighbour

21 May: You're invited

14 May: Laughing, lying and loving

7 May: The awesome in the ordinary

30 April: Wayside light

23 April: Priceless gifts, freely given

16 April: Good news from the Wayside is great news

9 April: Awesome

2 April: Easter by the Wayside

26 March: Thankful for little things

19 March: A few minutes in the cross

12 March: Seeing what isn't there

5 March : A tour like no other

26 February: Tough love

19 February: Puffing or building

12 February: The two shall become two

5 February: Chest pains

29 January: Shear joy

22 January 2015: Fully alive

15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions

8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory


18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand

11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill

4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night

27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better

20 November 2014: Gathering Moss

13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people

6 November 2014: The power of presence

30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence

23 October 2014: The joy of sight

16 October 2014: The best medicine

9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?

2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist

21 August: Saving souls

14 August: Squeaking out

7 August: A time for turning

31 July: You're okay

24 July: Happy tears

17 July: Let's aim higher

10 July: Gristle and good

3 July: The joy of not knowing

26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?

12 June: Longing for riches

5 June: When you least expect it

22 May: Finding home

15 May: Flying

8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues

1 May: Skuse the French

24 April: Lifting the curtain

17 April: Collective love

10 April: Cardiac arrest

3 April: Awe struck

27 March: You're invited to something special

20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss

13 March: It's all happening at the wayside

6 March: Love makes all the difference

27 February: What goes around

20 February: The joy of being empty handed

13 February: Loving the growth spurts

6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside

23 January: Some criminals have class

16 January: Wonderful surprises

9 January: Ready, set


19 December: Thanks for an awesome year

12 December: Mission and wishin'

5 December: The ups and downs and all is well

28 November: Kissed by the community

21 November: Our cup runneth over

14 November: A revelation from wayside

7 November: When excrement happens

31 October: I am therefore I think

24 October: We are surrounded by heroes

17 October: When you least suspect

26 September: A wayside wobbly

19 September: Knowing a gift

12 September: Advancing at the retreat

5 September: A little dose of good

29 August: Fighting with a feather

22 August: The boom is just beginning

15 August: True riches

8 August: Small is beautiful

1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views

25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside

18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage

27 June: Holy ground

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given



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