Inner Circle


Thursday, 19 January 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

The greatest loss in life is the ability to say, “Wow”. Our most attractive version of ourselves is the self that says, “Wow”, in the presence of the awesome. Now, the awesome is always present but most of the activities and arrangement-making that life demands of us rarely engages the self that says, “Wow”. Mostly life’s activities such as politics and economics engage us only as centres of work and effort whose value someone will estimate and use. There is not much room for “Wow” as we make a living or do battle with the world for a fairer deal. There is nothing wrong in making a living nor in doing battle with the world, but if life were to consist of these things alone, the self that stands before the awesome and says “Wow” will slowly suffocate.

There is no secret in obtaining the wisdom of a child. It would be silly to go looking for that which is everywhere to be found. I once saw my three-year-old granddaughter walking toward Bondi Beach, her hand in her father’s hand. The look on her face will be with me to my last breath. Her face said everything I need to know about wonder, security and love. I aspire to such wisdom. The awesome can be found in a face, a tree, an ocean or a cat. The awe goes missing when we think we know everything; when we can analyse something or become masters of something. When a person becomes a husband, a wife, a client or any kind of “thing”, the precious gift of wonder is lost. It’s way easier to love the whole world than it is to love the person next to you. The hardest of all to love are those you think you know the best. I’ve known my daughter for 35 years and I never meet her without an element of, ‘not knowing’. I always stare in wonder and awe and I always say, “Wow”.

Less than an hour ago, I saw a young fellow sitting at the front of our building, looking pretty dejected. I was surprised to see him because he’d told me that he was due to enter rehab yesterday. I sat with him and said, “This isn’t what I expected.” This really good looking man, who is usually so positive and who has been doing so well, put his head on my chest and wept. “I f***ed up”, he said. Normally at Wayside the word, “f***” is an adjective but on this occasion, it was a verb. He f***ed up. I put both arms around him and said, “You, my friend, are a good man. Don’t lose the bigger picture here. Every good man f***s up every now and then. The key issue is not whether you f*** up but whether you beat yourself up once you f*** up.” I told him that I once had to tell my father that I’d disappointed him in a way that I knew would break his heart. I was expecting a long lecture but instead all he did was quote a verse of Scripture to me. He said, “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord and he delights in his way, though he fall, he will not be cast down for the Lord upholds him in his hand.” I walked away lifted and inspired because I realised my Dad was telling me that I was a good man. My dear brother left me to talk to one of our staff about how he might make a new plan for rehabilitation.

We conducted the funeral of a homeless man yesterday. It was an awesome occasion because the tributes we heard about the man made me realise yet again that some of the most inspired lives are lived by people who have achieved nothing by any of the measures we use. Person after person told how this man would say that if you had food and clothes and friends that you were among the luckiest in the world. He had a reputation for bringing a smile to the faces of those whose luck had run out. He had a gift for finding the funny. Some of the attendees at this funeral had been drinking before they stepped into our Chapel. On our sound system I played at top note, “I wish you were here” by Pink Floyd. The song set off such emotion among those who were a tad under the influence, that some spontaneous liturgical dancing resulted. It was ok. This is the Wayside. One person said, “Our mate would not want any of us crying today. How many times had he made us laugh when everything looked bad? If you are going to cry, cry for the bloke who runs the bottle shop because his business has taken a major hit this week.”

Awesome. Thanks for being part of our inner circle.


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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