Thursday, 30 October 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
Last night I witnessed one of the most astonishing acts of community making. We called it “Wayside’s got talent” and about 80 people cheered, whistled and danced with various people who shared their talents at Wayside. We had stand up comedy, songs and there was even a band formed from our Twilight program, all in the name of Mental Health Month. The band had the name “Wayside Musical Group” - I think they could work on that name before they go on a world tour - but they were good; really good. Every act was equally esteemed by the audience and atmosphere was created that could only be described as “love” and a community with no ‘us and them’. There were no scores and no prizes because every act was a brave act of faith and every participant was a winner. I’ll bet all those 80 people went home lifted and inspired; I did.
As I approached our front door just now, a lady stepped in front of me and gave me a long embrace. I’ve only spoken to this person maybe once or twice and I don’t think our conversation was particularly significant but now we were locked in a tight embrace before everyone who gathers first thing in the morning. Eventually she whispered into my ear, “I miss my Mum”. She pulled her head back so that our faces could lock in a stare that made everything in my mind evaporate. What beauty, what strength, what courage; I was in love. I said, “I think you’ll have this ache in your heart until you are an old lady yourself”. She told me how she was the youngest of eight children. She told me how her own Mum was one of sixteen children. “I was an aunty when I was 3 months old” she said. She told me that she was born and raised in a different world to the one we all know now.
As she talked more about her Mum she started to smile. She told me of the scale of sacrifice that her mother had made for her kids. We started laughing together, not because anything being said was particularly funny but because we both knew about the world now long gone. It was like a brother and sister meeting after many years. In a few minutes the conversation turned to the subject of her grandmother and then the tears rolled again and we locked into an embrace again. “My Grandma loved me” she said in a stream of sobs. She moved her head back again so that our faces locked again in a loving stare. “I used to listen to her pray” she said. I was lost in the beauty of this face and I knew somehow that she’d just said a thing of enormous significance. No more words were said. We kissed each other on the cheek and I came to my desk. I met someone today and it made me brand new.The power of presence trumps the power of power any day.
A massive thank you to Cirque Du Soleil who sent us some free tickets to their latest Sydney show, Totem. A group from our Day to Day Living program, for people with long term mental health issues went the other night. The reaction of the people I spoke to has been astonishing. They clearly witnessed teamwork and mutual trust on a scale that almost didn’t compute. It was an event that was confronting in an inspiring way. I’m trawling through my diary now for a date when I can take my granddaughters and if my diary allows, I’ll buy my tickets.
My 9 year old granddaughter is an astonishing little girl. She’s thriving at school, she adores her teacher and she loves to learn. Her capacity to remember details often leaves me amazed. I was telling her what a smart and beautiful girl she was the other day when her adorable 7 year old sister said, “Papa, when I’m having fun, I forget everything.” I can report that this 7 year old is having fun most of the time and that each of my girls adds something astonishing to this world.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
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Previous Inner Circles
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