Thursday, 24 July 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
Tears can be the right response to beauty. Sometimes beauty can arrest you, take your breath away and lift you out of everything you know into a world long forgotten. Recently after speaking in a public forum I waited back for some time talking to all kinds of people who had all kinds of questions. Eventually there was just me and a young man in the room. I’d not noticed him until he was the only one left and it was obvious that he was crying. I sat next to him and the crying broke into convulsive sobbing. We sat together for a time before he could look at me. He told me of being raised by a man who I refuse to attribute the word 'father'. The young man heard me say that he “was the perfect example of himself”. At least for a time, my voice called him to a belief that he was born okay and still is okay. A lifetime of words, psychological tricks, being used as a thing and believing that others would be hurt if he dared to believe he was worth anything had brought him to Wayside in a search for something he couldn’t name. This was just a moment; just a beginning. It was a beautiful moment and an important beginning.
Some months ago a young woman asked to see me. She had just been released from hospital after a suicide attempt. Most of her body was covered in bandages from the wounds of a bid for death. She couldn’t look at me. Although I have no idea what I said while with her, this week she sat beside me and quoted my exact words. Her wounds are mostly healed. Her beautiful face is open and alight and engaging. She’s employed in a good job and she’s studying. All of this in just a few months! She’s on her own and there are many difficult things before her to negotiate but she’s getting the right support and she’s doing the right things. I was astonished when she named our conversation as her turning point. Tears streamed down her face and mine. Oddly enough this moment wasn’t about the young woman nor about me but about us both and about the universe. It was a moment of Divine presence and we both knew we were each caught up in something more wonderful and more beautiful than either of us. It’s a lucky thing I have a big supply of tissues in my office.
Out the front yesterday an elderly fellow embarked on a speech about all his medical problems. It was a bit of an organ recital. My hearing isn’t the best, especially when there is noise around and so I missed most of what he said until the moment that I heard the words, “I’m terminal”. He didn’t speak after those words but we sat together holding hands. I’m not sure if people around us thought this was odd but it didn’t matter. We didn’t speak again. For just a moment we looked into each other’s faces. It was just a moment but it was enough to know we were together. I sometimes wish I was a doctor and sometimes I wish I could do miracles but really I don’t want patients or clients and I don’t want success stories nearly as much as I want the sheer joy of finding myself alive with another human being.
It’s been a week of sadness and tears around the world but I wanted you to know that some tears were shed for the sake of joy.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
PS. Jane Crowe, a committed Wayside volunteer and a participant on our trek to Peru next year, is hosting a night of inspiration to raise money for Wayside on Wednesday, 6 August 2014 . I'll be speaking at the event, along with Rob Holt, who will talk about his journey from life on the streets to volunteering at Wayside, and Heather Swan, a world record-holding wingsuit pilot, BASEjumper and mountaineer. If you need some inspiration in your life, you're certain to get it from this event. More details here.
Order your copy of Graham's book, Love Over Hate: Finding life by the wayside here.
Click here to listen to podcasts of past Inner Circle's, aired on ABC 702's 'Afternoons with James Valentine'
Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
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