Thursday, 14 August 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
A lady approached me and asked if I had a prayer for a sick mouse. Nervously I said, “Sure”. She reached into her blouse and pulled out a mouse from her bra. This was not a cute, white, fluffy sort of pet mouse but a grey, nearly dead, 'where’s the rat sack, find a mouse trap' kind of mouse. I was tempted to pray, “Bless this bra and all who sail in her” but I found something to pray and walked away certain that it was me who was blessed to have seen such compassion for a soon to be departed little creature.
Una and John, two of Wayside's Community Service Workers were on top of the world yesterday when a young fellow visited to thank them for saving his life. He had overdosed and John and Una performed CPR on him until the ambulance arrived. He’s now working full time, he’s clear headed about his future and all that he hopes to achieve. To think that all of this promise might have been lost on a dark day last year. There is life beyond addiction. Someone once attacked me for our support of the work of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross. They asked me in an aggressive tone, “How many people go from the centre into rehabilitation?” My answer was that of those who have died of overdose on the street, not one person has rehabilitated but for every person who we can keep alive, there is always hope. I once sat with a heavy drinker in the main drag and he said to me, “See this drink? It's my last!” Not for one minute did I think that was this man’s last drink…but it was. Five years later that man is a good friend and he’s not had another drink. There is life beyond addiction.
Was there ever such a gracious person as Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, who acted as the Governor of New South Wales? This was a governor who loved all people from all walks of life. Who could calculate the sheer energy and hours she put in serving the people of this State. I’ve met her at rock concerts; I’ve met her at tiny functions for unknown community groups who were celebrating something or other; I’ve met her at important occasions; I’ve been visiting a homeless person in hospital and found that the Governor was already at the bedside. I’ve known her to stop her official car in order to lend assistance to some distressed person. At Wayside we’ve come not only to respect our Governor but love her. She has been our Patron right from the time when we were doing it tough and not even sure if we had a future. In our early days we cheekily held a celebration called, “Resurrection Day” and our Governor attended and gave her vote of faith in our resurrection yet to come. On that occasion she called Wayside, “the jewel in Sydney’s crown”. She explained that a city should be judged by how it treats its poorest citizen and for that reason Wayside was a precious possession of the city. Our beloved Patron and Governor of NSW is retiring and there is a concert at the Opera House to mark the service of this wonderful person. Although she is Patron to over 300 organisations, she has chosen Wayside to be one of the two charities to benefit from the sale of tickets to her farewell concert. I believe there are seats still available and you can book a ticket right here.
A good friend just made this post on Facebook and I’m sure he’d be happy for me to share with you. “I am my own worst enemy. Alone in my head, I’m behind enemy lines. Learning to be my own best friend is a difficult journey when my whole life I was told that I was useless and worthless and that I’d always be a never-do-well. Today I’m a productive, useful member of the community and I love that I am loved by others. Thank you for being beside me and sharing this journey.” How wonderful is such a message?
It’s been a full week with a couple of extra funerals and commitments every night. Oddly I start each activity with an awareness that I know nothing and have nothing and I emerge from each activity a changed person. I’m enlivened by people who trust me to stand with them at important times. I emerge proving again that the fear of something is always worse than the something. I emerge changed. I can’t usually say in what way I’ve been changed but nothing is more certain that I have received something. Presence is what I’ve received. It doesn’t always make my way lighter, indeed often it makes it heavier, but heavy with meaning.
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 book, Love 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
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