Inner Circle


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

A lovely man who has a bit of a gift for finding the hard way to do anything, really owes his life to Alcoholics Anonymous. The man was born into alcoholism, literally, on a park bench because his mum couldn’t get herself to hospital. All his life, the foetal alcohol spectrum disorder made everything hard. Schooling was impossible and so now as an adult any reading and writing is a major obstacle. Thanks to AA, this fellow has been dry for at least 10 years and he’s undertaken a lot of coaching to try and gain some of the opportunities lost to him because of an alcoholic daze that lasted from birth until about 30 years of age. I’m a big fan of AA because I’ve known many people, like this bloke, for whom it was just the right answer. People who are immersed in it tend to develop a language all of their own. Often in a conversation, this beautiful man will launch into “Rule 5” or some other aspect of AA. He’s inclined to quote “the big book” quite often. Yesterday he was talking about a situation that is really testing him. “Like the big book says,” he told me, “Patience is a virtue”. We talked about what he might do to help move his situation forward a bit and at one point he reminded me about, “A stitch in time… like it says in the big book”. We talked about how so many things lately had not worked out as planned and I chipped in, “Well, like it says in the big book, ‘shit happens.’” He looked a bit surprised and asked me where such a thing was said in the big book. Having misquoted the bible a half dozen times now he asks me for references! “Well,” I said, “I think the big book says that ‘shit happens’ from cover to cover.’” There was an embarrassing pause before a joke was detected.

Walking into the building this morning I recognised a vaguely familiar face. We stood face to face before I realised that I knew the man quite well. “My Lord,” I said. “I couldn’t recognise you because you look so healthy”. He told me that he’d been in prison for 12 months. He entered prison weighing 57 kilos and left it weighing 80 kilos. I’d never seen the man with hair before. He was always a kind man and always helpful. I think nothing gave him more pleasure than to be able to do something for someone. He was so unwell when I last saw him that I was more or less prepared to think he’d be the next one we bury here. He was skinny and gaunt, even though he is a relatively young man. “I think prison might have saved your life,” I said this morning. “It did,” he said. Thank God for some wonderful members of this team that we refer to as our Pathways workers, who will get alongside this bloke and challenge him to use this momentum and help him find his destiny. I told him about our workers and reminded him that salvation comes through the feet not the head. “It doesn’t matter what you think,” I said “It matters what you do now”.

Rushing out yesterday a voice called, “Rev! Comere! Comere! Comere!” The last thing I needed just then was an interruption. “I’ve done something wrong!” I thought to myself, “Oh great, this doesn’t sound like it will be quick.” As I looked into his face, a pest transformed into a person. It turned out that he really had done something wrong. It was a long time ago but it was very wrong. It felt doubly wrong because he’d chosen this moment to let it all out. How did he develop the confidence to know that I’d listen, even when I didn’t want to listen? It was his moment. I asked if he could tell me which hand he’d used to inflict a terrible injury to someone. He offered me his right hand. I held his hand and made a washing movement with my hands over his. I prayed, “Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord, O Lord hear my voice. If you O Lord kept a record of wrongs, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness and freedom”. One minute I was looking at a nuisance and the next I was looking at a brother and all the things that troubled me minutes before didn’t seem so important.

Thanks for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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