Inner Circle


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Dear Inner Circle,

A group from Coca-Cola came along to Wayside this week for a Corporate Day and as part of the deal, they have lunch with homeless people. One of our former employees is a big wheel in Coca-Cola now and so I was keen to join them for lunch. I collected a generous portion of shepherd's pie and sat next to an old lady. She was pleased that I chose to sit with her and proceeded to tell me about her recent trip to the dentist. “He had to work for ages to get all the muck and puss out of my mouth,” she said. “Honey, not at lunch time. Let's talk about something else,” I said. Well that just gave her an opportunity to talk about every gruesome medical intervention she’d ever had. After a few minutes I pushed my plate away and said, “I’m not as hungry as I thought”. “Oooooo,” she said, “Can I finish off your lunch?”

I’m convinced that bad habits shut off possibilities for life just as good habits make the path before us positive. The difficulty is that habits are habits. They are rarely examined and even more rarely tipped over in favour of better habits. I’m troubled this week by being alongside people who deep in their bones do not believe intimacy is possible and perhaps have never known it. Such people work out ways of getting attention and in a perverse sort of way, keeping the upper hand. In this context, intelligence is not a gift but a weapon. A young man with stunning intelligence today sat beside me in tears asking for help. It was not an invitation into intimacy but only the first move in a routine that proves in the end that he is smarter than me. The towering intelligence of this young man is such that all his relationships follow the same pattern. The call for help is just an invitation into a battle that he invariably wins. Despite his young age, his knowledge of psychology, psychiatry and even theology is stunning. Our interview ended rather abruptly when I declared that, “Whatever this is, I’m not playing”. As we walked to the front door I offered for us to speak again when he might find it useful to engage with someone who doesn’t know anything.

A big shout out to the wonderful people running this Sunday in the City2Surf. Nearly 40 people this year are raising a sweat and, in the process, raising funds for Wayside. The total raised to this moment is about $20,000 which is nothing short of astounding. Wayside exists mostly because good people do crazy things and I can’t thank this group enough. The team is holding a BBQ out the front of Wayside on Saturday from 11am to 2pm to raise money. We'd love to see you there. One of our community’s champions is running to raise money for the Big Issue and we are inspired by this man's story, his humanity and brave struggle back to life from the pits of despair. This day mucks up our roads a bit but it's worth any inconvenience to witness the massive outpouring of goodwill and fun.

I’m convinced that the only way to life is through turning. We all share a compulsion to become experts. We encounter the awesome but soon enough work out a way to possess it or use it or become expert in all aspects of the awesome. The harder we try to possess the awesome, the quicker it evaporates through our fingers. It comes when it isn’t summoned and it leaves as soon as we seek to make use of it. It is why it's so hard for us to meet anyone we know. The better we know them the harder it is for us to meet, because we are the expert. Most of our relationships become an activity of problem solving. But to be a fixer is not to be human. I have some really strong ideas about Robyn (my wife) formed over many years and yet she herself is always greater than any idea I might have of her. It is only by turning away from what I know that we might meet. So dear friends please take note of those moments when you find you are the wisest person in the room and declare yourself as lost. If you can hold back from being an expert for a moment, you might meet the awesome.

With love to you all, thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev. Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel

Order your copy of Graham's bookLove Over Hate: Finding life by the wayside here. 

Click here to listen to podcasts of past Inner Circle's, aired on ABC 702's 'Afternoons with James Valentine'


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

Previous Inner Circles


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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