Inner Circle


Thursday, 18 August 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Minutes ago on the footpath, a young bloke, perhaps in his thirties, put his arms around me and just didn’t let go. I knew the bloke by sight but didn’t know his name. He’s normally friendly but not affectionate. “What’s up?” I asked. “They’ve revoked my bail and I’m waiting at Wayside for the cops to find me and put me back in jail.” He wasn’t blaming anyone and he wasn’t cranky. He was sad. He got caught carrying a small amount of an illegal drug. He was rather fatalistic about spending another year behind bars, but the sadness was for yet more time wasted and his best plans amounting to nothing. The embrace continued and I was beginning to become uncomfortable until it occurred to me that this was my son. Suddenly I embraced him more tightly and lost all interest in the background story. I just quietly repeated, “You’re ok, and you’re a good man”. When the embrace broke, he said, “I’ll have a roof over my head and regular food for a while though, eh?”

Last night a generous bloke took me out to dinner. It was one of those places where any consideration of the prices on the menu seemed inappropriate. My eyes popped when I saw the wine that was ordered. Generally, I can’t tell the difference between a Grange and something that has been filtered through kitty litter, but this was a magnificent drop. By the end of the dinner we were cracking jokes that wouldn’t be funny to anyone else. My friend spent a lot of money on this evening; bucket loads compared to the guy who was going to jail. There is something odd about our policy on drugs that will encourage two old blokes to enjoy one substance but send another bloke to prison for choosing a moderate amount of the wrong substance.

A woman shook with rage this week as stories of an abusive childhood gushed. One dark story lead right into another and I wondered when the pace might ease. Eventually we sat together motionless, paralysed and scarcely believing how cruel a family can be to a child. After some time, the shaking resumed and tears flowed as the woman saw for the first time, just how cruel she had been to her own children. They’ve grown up and gone but each one of them is affected by the damage inflicted by their own Mum. The woman was well familiar with the facts of her behaviour toward her children but she’d never seen it as if from the eyes of her children. She saw the rage in her own eyes. She saw her blind, unrelenting anger being dished out on her kids just for being kids. It was a tough session but inspiring. Who in this world can see themselves as a persecutor? Who ever identifies themselves as the betrayer? What kind of miracle is taking place that this woman can behold her history from the point of view of those she hurt? It may be too late to save family relationships but this session could not have happened if there wasn’t some radical growth taking place. She is finding a sense of security never known before. She is finding a foundation and sense of being ok, enough to see who she used to be, without excuses. When I was a prison chaplain, we used to say that it took at least four years of constant work with someone who had abused a child or who had committed murder, to even admit what they had done. This woman just took about 15 years of growth in one giant step. She’s on a painful road but she’s on her way to a destiny unthinkable before now. Holy ground!

At yet another funeral this week, the widow asked me to play three Elvis songs. ‘Always On My Mind’ is a pretty powerful thing to play at a funeral. In a shortish funeral however, three Elvis songs is quite a large dose. By the third song, someone up the front said, “What is it with all the Elvis?”. I said, “It’s proof that we all suffer for our sins”.

A fabulous wedding happened in our normal 11am church service last Sunday. About 100 of us witnessed the most beautiful, simple and happy wedding that could be imagined. There was no fuss, although a friend of the bride did put some special Australian natives around the chapel. Saint Interuptus (a much loved little lady who sits up the front) thought that the wattle set near her was marijuana and said at top note, “Is that what I think it is? Can we smoke that?” Not a lot of dull moments around here.

Next month at Wayside Kings Cross there will also be a four-week series combining yoga with discussions on service to the community. You can find out more and book your seat here.

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


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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