Thursday, 9 April 2015
Dear Inner Circle,
With my coffee in hand this morning I was confronted by a large man wearing a football jumper and shorts with a kindly, beautiful face, blocking my way. He took off his bracelet and said, “Can you bless this Father?”
When I was younger, requests like this caused me the greatest discomfort because it came close to the superstitious hocus-pocus that I thought it was my duty to blow away rather than create. I remember the moment when I learned that objects can take on a sense of the sacred. Years ago late one night, I sat with a couple who agonised their way through a story of unfaithfulness. The man had slept with the woman’s best friend. It was betrayal on a grand scale. The most painful moment of the night was when the husband confessed to sleeping with the wife’s friend in their own bed. I was puzzled that the betrayal seemed worse because it took place on the marital bed. The bed was an object of special, even sacred, significance. I began to understand that things and places can be made sacred by human acts.
The man’s bracelet was perfect for such a blessing. It was just an elastic band with what looked like small plastic birds of various colours. I’m sure it was made for a child or perhaps it might have been a possession of a child now lost. The bracelet was perfect because if any busy person saw it on the street, they’d walk over it or throw it away. Love almost always comes to us through the insignificant. Is there anything more easily overlooked than gestures of love? Gestures of love are mostly missed by those of us who are busy. I put my coffee on the ground and cupped my hands over the bracelet and I said, “Let this fragile, breakable thing be a symbol of a fragile, unbreakable thing.” I then recited Isaiah 43 which in part says, “When you pass through the waters I will be with you… when you walk through the fire you will not be burned… for I am the Lord your God the Holy One and you are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you.” I looked into a big beautiful smile and the man gave me a bear hug and walked away. I didn’t even ask his name.
Later this morning I was standing talking to a volunteer when an old, loveable alcoholic stepped into our conversation. “I want to talk to the priest” he said. The volunteer quickly excused herself (which was most kind because she could have been offended by the interruption) and my old mate said with real intensity on his face, “I think I’m losing my faith”.
It’s not what I expected and so I invited him to sit with me on the seat at the front of our building.
“How do you like today’s weather?” I asked.
“It’s beautiful” he said.
“It’s awesome” I replied. “See our magnificent magnolia tree that shades people in summer and protects them in winter. What do you make of it?”
“I think it’s beautiful” he said.
“It’s awesome” I added. “See that lady over there who has spent all of her adult life in addiction? She’s drug free today and doing her best to do her best. Do you know her?”
“I only know her to look at but I think she’s brave and to be admired.”
“She’s awesome” I added. “See in the cafe those people serving food are all volunteers. They could be out doing whatever they wanted but they are here giving their time for those in need. What do you make of that?”
“Amazing” he said.
“Awesome” I said. “How is it for us to be sitting in this lovely spot taking a moment out of our day to ponder how awesome is this world in which we live?”
“Yeah” he said, “It’s awesome and I’m OK now”.
It was and is awesome and I’m OK too thanks to my beautiful old friend.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
CEO & Pastor
The Wayside Chapel
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Previous Inner Circles
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