Inner Circle


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out a bloke in the café who was keen to talk to me. My hearing is not good and when there is a lot of background noise, my hearing is dreadful. Just to make things most complex, the man who wanted to talk to me had a speech impediment. We had a whole conversation where my contribution was almost entirely based on non-verbal indicators. He wouldn’t have been 40 years old but I looked into a face that had lived about 80 hard years. It was a rather beautiful face and he smiled a lot, revealing yellow teeth, stained from years of smoking and less than ideal oral hygiene. Using all my capacity to read grunts and husky noises that looked like language, it seems the man is Brisbane based. He had spent most of his life on the streets of Sydney and had returned this week because two of his old mates from the street had died in the one week. His move to Brisbane had enabled him to stop drinking altogether. An amazing feat. The man was clearly sober although I think he formed his words like he was drunk. Perhaps years without any sober moments had actually given him his speech defect. The whole time we were talking, he formed a pile of tobacco out of a pouch and carefully pulled it apart, I think to eliminate lumps. The process happened over and over again and not one single strand of tobacco was lost while we were talking. Many years ago when I was a chaplain at Parramatta Prison, I smoked a pipe with plumb flavoured tobacco. I thought at the time that it smelled rather nice. I can’t remember anything smelling as vile as this tobacco yesterday. At the end of our conversation, I was ready for a shower. After about 20 minutes, I hugged the man and said, “Well, your two mates are dead and you’re alive and sober. Whatever you’re doing, I think you should keep doing it.” As I walked away, the smile on the man’s face was worth a million dollars. I’m so glad to have met him even though most of my listening was pure guess work.

A member of our marketing team is on maternity leave at the moment. I loved watching this pregnancy develop. Sometimes I would put my hand on Mum’s tummy and talk to the baby. I used to say, “Wait till you come out here. We’ve got trees and sky. We’ve got puppy dogs out here and ice cream.” Yesterday I nursed this precious 9 month-old. So many of our team were gooing and gahing all at once. It must have been overwhelming even though she is a chilled out baby. I said to her yesterday, “I forgot to tell you that it’s noisy out here.”

Our team is so large these days that we have all kinds of specialists roles and not everyone can know everyone or even get their head around all the functions that take place across all of Wayside. It’s helpful for some to spend some time with other teams. Yesterday one of our marketing team was doing a shift on our front desk at Kings Cross. She did a routine check of the showers to find a naked man, unconscious on the floor, bleeding profusely from the head. This is not an every-day occurrence in the marketing team and a quick dash to get some experienced hands soon eased the tension. As it turned out the young man had been showering and taken a fit which rendered him unconscious and caused some injury in the fall to the floor. It’s rather routine for our community services team. What blew me away yesterday was the tenderness with which our experienced people looked after our person from marketing. There was wonderful acknowledgement of the shock and every opportunity to take some time out to put the experience into context. There was also genuine praise because of the swiftness with which action was taken. I love this team we’ve built. I’m more proud of the team we’ve built than the building that we built.

As you are reading this, I’m off conducting yet another funeral. The trust that people give when they ask me to bury their loved one is amazing. We continually walk on holy ground.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


7 July: Sowing in tears, reaping with shouts of joy

30 June: A bit of banter about Bondi

23 June: My cup runneth over

16 June: Injecting some joy

9 June: At the end of the line

2 June: Lots of perspiration and a touch of inspiration

26 May: Swimming against the tide

19 May: Every 7 days but not weakly

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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