Inner Circle


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

That we live in such a peaceful, prosperous part of the world is the achievement of very few of us. Most should leave some space today to thank someone else for such good fortune. Today I offer my thanks to a young bloke, starving in the potato famine in the county of Tipperary, Ireland. James Long’s father was an alcoholic, which must have added a level of misery to what was already an unbearable situation. The young James made a drunken goose of himself once at a funeral and decided from that moment on that he would never drink again, and he never did. Rumours of the gold fields in Australia must have sounded like a fairy tale to this poor Irishman at the bottom of his social ladder. All around London at the time there were signs on boarding houses that said, “No Irish”. Any chance for a life out of starvation must have seemed to be worth a shot, even if that meant a boat trip that would take months, to a destination far away from everything he knew and with little or no prospect of return. From this desperate situation and from this radical decision, much of the “luck” of my life was set in place.

James arrived in Ballarat, Victoria, and discovered many things about this strange place. He found just enough gold to start a small business making cakes and confectionary for miners. In due course James Long Confectionary employed 140 people with factories and offices in Perth and also New Zealand. The alcoholic father got news of his son’s success and decided he too would make the journey to this country. One day in a pub near Ballarat, after drinking all day, he rode his horse to the edge of town and fell to his death. The local paper wrote a story that marvelled that he had managed to ride as far as the edge of town at all. The business of James Long eventually became the Sunshine Biscuit Factory and James died one of Victoria’s wealthiest citizens. What a pity none of that wealth got passed down through the family! Funnily enough, I knew none of this history when we named our son, James.

I rejoice today for that poor Irishman who took a desperate shot to find food and life. If Australia at the time was keen to “turn back the boats”, I wouldn’t be here doing what I do to make the world a better place, nor even sitting at this computer, typing you this message.

As you read this note, I will be in Lightning Ridge at the Australia Day Celebrations there. What an honour to be an Australia Day Ambassador, not that I’m given to nationalism. I long for a new national anthem. Not only do I object to the hypocrisy of singing, “For those who come across the sea, we’ve boundless plains to share” but mostly I object to singing, “We are young and free”. We are not young. One of our proudest claims is that we walk on land with the oldest surviving cultures of the world. When we love the people of this land, we will be able to claim we love this ancient land. I also take the view that we ought to move the date. Of course the date we use is “Invasion Day”. How hard could it be to find another date that works for all of us, particularly our first peoples.

So I wish you a Happy Australia Day. Nearly all of us are here because of the decisions of others. We didn’t invent this place. Most of us fluked being born here. It’s a good day to be thankful for those people who long before us made this home possible for us. It’s a day for all of us to recognise Aboriginal cultures as the richest, most sophisticated and most ancient cultures on earth. It’s a day for us to give thanks that someone welcomed our ancestors or at least made room for them.

Around this time of year I get e-mail and Facebook posts that show our flag as if we were under attack. It usually comes with messages like, “I don’t care who this offends…” or “Speak English”. Anyone who knows anything about the English language will know that to speak English is an act of aural multiculturalism. You’ll know that the official language in London was French for 300 years. You’ll understand that about a third of the words we use in English are actually French words. You’ll understand that English is peppered with Greek words. Very few words were born in this country. Someone contested me on this point once and offered the word “Cobber” as an authentic Australian word. Our soldiers in WWI used this word almost always in place of “Mate”, but “Cobber” comes from a Yiddish word, commonly used on the goldfields, “Covar”. To speak English is itself an act of multiculturalism.

So much to be thankful for – thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


19 January: Wow

13 January: The Joy of Being Useless


22 December: Miracles in the Messy

15 December: A Season for Demons

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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