Thursday, 8 January 2015
Dear Inner Circle,
Wow, I think I might be overdosing on life! Yesterday I looked into a face so beautiful, so arresting, that it slowed me to the point of forgetting if I had anything else to do but gaze. It wasn’t that long ago that this person couldn’t lift their head to look anyone in the face but today, eyes that could start fires glistened with hope and love. I awkwardly asked if there was a romantic interest. I asked this to explain what seemed obvious but difficult to believe. There is no romantic interest. This beautiful woman thought her life was over and now she’s in love with life. Still doubtful, I asked if she was drinking at all. “Alcohol can’t handle me,” she said. “I’m so alive that drink has nothing for me.” Wow, seriously wow.
Last Sunday I put an image on our order of service that said, “I want to inspire people. I want someone to come to me and say, ‘Because of you, I didn’t give up!’” Afterwards, one lady passed me a note that said, “I lost my son and I wanted to give up but because of you I didn’t give up and I’m headed toward my future.” Another person waited for quite a while to catch me. Finally she caught my eye; and my heart. Her face showed that she’d had more than her share of heartache and yet it was a beautiful face, exuding hope. The glance we shared said everything and after a few moments all she said was, “Because of you, I didn’t give up” and then she walked away.
Yesterday two women phoned to see if I could spend a short time with them over lunch. It would normally be a difficult ask for me but January has a lot of my regular duties in recess and it was possible for us to meet. I met this mother and daughter 30 years ago when they were living in a car. The mother used to shake like a rabbit all the time and the daughter had a cry that could wake the dead. I sat in the company of two angels yesterday. The daughter is now a stunning woman, working hard and living a wonderful life. The mother is living proof that you can crawl out of the deepest hole to live and love again. We chatted like it was 3 minutes since our last chat. We have a bond that is deep, respectful, loving and forever.
Yesterday someone posted a note on Facebook that quoted Gerry Harvey as saying that those who work with homeless people are just wasting their time. As I was reading through the comments below the quote, I nearly choked when I read, “I arrived at The Wayside Chapel unemployed, homeless and a lonely man with no hope a few years ago. I’m now working full time, married and loving living thanks to the wonderful people of The Wayside Chapel. I’m also volunteering with my local church, helping less fortunate people with a free weekly sit down meal. I’m lucky to call Graham Long my good friend.” Wow!
I’ve got more; much more, but I need to control the size of this note. Don’t think for a minute that this note is about fairytales. Each of these people whose story I share have lived through hell. I have sat in an ocean of tears with people whose future looked bleak and without hope and that’s what makes these stories remarkable. Resurrection without death is fairy stories. The way to life is through death. Lesser hopes need to give way to deeper, wider, better hopes. Disillusion isn’t always a bad thing. I bear witness to some who have lost marriages, loved ones, jobs, status, wealth, security, health and hope and yet they live.
Our Annual Report is out and available for you to view. I’m so proud of the team we’ve built and of our achievements in our 50th year. Our 50 employees and 750 volunteers are truly angels among us. You can see our report here. You can also watch a clip of the highlights here.
My deepest thanks to all whose generosity got us through Christmas. Thanks to those who donated a plate for Christmas Day. Thanks to those who gave to our Christmas Appeal. When I last wrote, I was anxious but once again you’ve taught me to have faith. Our Christmas Day Street Party this year was, without a doubt, the happiest and best in 50 years.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
CEO & Pastor
The Wayside Chapel
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Previous Inner Circles
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