Thursday, 19 March 2015
Dear Inner Circle,
By the time you read this note, I’ll be in Adelaide to celebrate my Mum’s 90th birthday. She won’t believe for a moment that she’s 90. She knows she has a son with my name but she’s pretty sure that her son wouldn’t be anywhere near my advanced age. She is still a dear, sweet lady but it’s a difficult path she’s on. Ageing is not for wimps!
It’s 10am on Wednesday as I write this and I’m seated in a cafe in the main drag of Kings Cross. Actually I’m seated in the very seat that Animal usually held court and often referred to as his office. It’s hard to sit here without keenly feeling the loss of our dear Animal.
An old lady with stooped shoulders just walked past wearing a long white dress with white flowers in her hair. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was in her eighties but she projected both weariness and a flare for fashion and for life. She’s carrying what looks like a violin case. Sitting in front of me is a man who I recognise as a visitor to Wayside. He has just a tiny circle of hair on the top of his cranium. The hair is a bright purple colour and gelled so that it stands straight up in the air. A dear old bloke that I don’t recognise is walking toward me who looks like he’s in great pain. He’s limping and his facial expression suggests that either his foot or knee or hip is giving him a lot of pain. He’s making his way to me and so I suspect he recognises me…Well, the old fellow just wanted to say, “hello”. It doesn’t cost anything to brighten up someone’s day.
There is a light breeze today in the Cross that gives relief from the humidity. It’s quite a lovely morning.
There is a young woman working the street near Porky’s over the road. I know her. She told me a month ago that she was giving the game away but I guess it’s easier said than done. She is a country girl and she has a kindly face. Her family know how she makes a living and she carries an unbearable shame that I think she shares with no one. It’s an honour that she shared this pain with me. I hope she finds her way out when she’s ready. Rumours about big money to be made in the sex industry are mostly rumours. This woman works long hours and can go for days without turning a trick. There is nothing easy about her life.
I could stay here for ages just watching the world go past but there is much to squash into the day. There is more going on at Wayside right now than there is here in the main drag. When I arrived at Wayside this morning at about 7.30am an older bloke, perhaps 60, yelled out to me. “Graham! Just the bloke I’ve been looking for!” The big news was that he had passed some written test that was part of one of our programs. I almost glazed over as if this was just an annoying sound bite on the way to my meeting but his eyes filled with tears. He explained that he was dyslexic and had never been able to read or write, let alone pass any test. This was massive news and I nearly missed it. He told me of how he used to get belted at school for not being able to put two syllables together. I told him that my older brother had the same issue and that I have dreadful memories of seeing him being hit because of his inability to know that Syd and ney could become Sydney. I made it to my meeting in time this morning and I’m so grateful that I didn’t miss this gem first.
The greatest resource in this community is under our nose and yet a lot of economists give it a nil value and in recent years, many politicians and all manner of clever persons give it a negative value. Our greatest resource is each other. Australia is becoming a harsher place and we’re becoming hard-hearted in the process. In a “winner takes all” culture, everyone loses. We’ve developed a taste for labelling anyone who is frail as a “loser” and we seem to have no idea that most of us are frail most of the time and all of us are frail, eventually. I’m not the only voice crying in this wilderness but I’m afraid the good news of immeasurable riches is being drowned out by hard-hearted people who resent having to help others. In such a cold atmosphere is it any wonder that depression rates soar among the wealthy and the poor? It is any wonder that addiction has become a way of life? Under our very noses are the riches we really need. Our most valuable resource is each other. Competitors can become brothers and sisters. Problems can become people. A lonely struggle to survive can become an awesome journey of discovery. The invitation into community is always present but easily ignored while we’re getting on with business. See if you get the invitation today.
We have a few spots left on a tour of Wayside and Kings Cross with our very own Rob Holt this Friday evening. Rob draws on his own experiences of homelessness and addiction to provide people with a rare insight into life on the streets. Book your ticket here.
We’re right out of socks and undies again so if you or your office organise a little undie project, we’d be most grateful.
Thanks on behalf of the knickerless and thanks for being part of this inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
CEO & Pastor
The Wayside Chapel
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Previous Inner Circles
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