Inner Circle


Thursday, 27 October 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

More nourishing than a hot plate of food, more refreshing than a dip in the ocean on a sticky day, is a conversation whose theme is, “Wow! Look how far you’ve come!” Every week, perhaps most days, I have a conversation with someone where we look back in wonder in order to appreciate a life now opening up and beginning to bloom.

A gentle, sensitive fellow was sharing something of his present struggle. Unthinkable early damage in his life has left something like a parcel of infection, a bit like a boil that needs to be lanced every now and then. Like many, perhaps most, his radar was permanently on the lookout for wrongdoers. He has a need of enemies. Luckily, when you look for evil, it’s everywhere to be found. So a lifetime of refining his ability to judge and condemn is beginning to look like a wasted life. Many times now we’ve sat together to discover that people are just people. The only way you can hate a person is to take a snap shot and call it the whole movie. I’ve witnessed his need of enemies diminish in recent years and proportionately, I’ve seen him take up new interests, including a love of reading and history in particular. What a joy to be able to say, “Wow! Look how far you’ve come.”

I suspect all enemies serve this sort of function. Enemies are not people. It was my generation that was called to fight the people of Vietnam. It seems like yesterday to me when we frequently referred to Vietnamese people as, “the enemy”. So many of my friends in recent years have had a holiday in that country and they all come back raving about the beauty of the landscape, the food and the culture. Thank God we lost that war because we cannot claim our destruction brought about the good we finally recognise. Do you remember the scale of our need in those days? More bombs were dropped on the little country of Laos than the total, on all sides, in the whole Second World War, and that wasn’t even the main event. Just like my mate, Australia has some early damage, and rather than deal with it, we’re happier loading our judgment onto someone else. Until we reconcile with the first peoples of this land, we’ll be at the mercy of leaders like Hanson whose idea of “unity” involves rejecting someone. Every year lately I give an Australia Day speech somewhere in this country. How I’d love to make my theme, “Wow! Look how far we’ve come.”

When enemies are not available, people generally turn on themselves. In my office this week I sat with a fellow who struggles daily but is coming to life. He’s finding his life in community and learning to trust without creating the kind of fairy story that guarantees ultimate failure. He told me how he pulled all of his toe nails out of his feet with a pair of plyers. He remembered that the pain of his feet actually gave him significant relief from the pain of his lonely psyche. Wow, look how far he’s come! Another man, much younger than me, told me he’d lived on the streets for a few years and for eighteen months, he never once took off his socks and shoes. He’d had showers but with his shoes on. When his shoes were removed he was admitted to hospital and he was in serious danger of losing all of his toes. Today the man is employed and paying his own way and careful about hygiene. His life is not without struggle but oh my, how far he has come.

People come to life not because we hold their hand and speak soothing words. We don’t tell people who are sick that they are well. We don’t tell people who are ugly that they’re ravishing. We’re not interested in self-actualization. We don’t think people come to life in moments of reflection. One of the most attractive features of death will be that I will have heard the last word of “reflection” by some well-meaning soul who feels compelled to share the view while their head is up their posterior. We know that life is found in community and when we are flourishing, we are necessary, significant and not central.

Enough. Thanks for being part of this inner circle.


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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