Thursday, 16 May 2013
Dear Inner Circle,
"Disgusting," said a elderly street dweller as he passed me last week. I learned that the door to the hall had been left open and that was the cause of the outrage. This dear old sausage had a stroke about a year ago and ever since he slowly shuffles, dragging his mostly useless left side. This must be dreadful frustration for him. I saw him once step out of our lift and as he shuffled out toward me, he said that all the doors on the fourth floor had been left open and he'd shut them all for me. He thought this state of affairs was, "disgusting". A couple of weeks ago he shuffled into the chapel in the middle of our Sunday service. The shuffle is so loud and so slow that there is not much choice but to give a welcome and wait until he finally found a seat. On this particular day he shuffled all the way to the front row and then he noticed that someone had left a cup of water on the altar. "Disgusting," he proclaimed and started a slow shuffle out again.
The public rebuke from this paralysed old man caused me concern, not because his religious sensibilities were offended but because the man's complexion was bright purple. He looked dreadful and smelled worse than any other human being I've ever been near. I have a large nose. My daughter has told me many times how grateful she is not to have the "Long nose". Notwithstanding the size of my nose, my sense of smell is not good. Given my vocation, I've always thought of this as something of a blessing. If I can smell anything, you can be sure it is a massive odour. After church John, our of our Community Workers, got talking to the man who ended up telling John that his gammy leg was sore. He pulled up his trouser leg and revealed the worst infection that we'd ever seen. We called the troops from St Vincent's Hospital (the Homeless Health team) and they said it was the worst infection that they'd ever seen. We got him admitted to hospital but we learned that he checked himself out yesterday. No doubt he'll shuffle in sometime today and we'll call a nurse to change his dressing. I haven't made this dear old fellow sound very attractive but he really is a dear. I don't mind being told every now and then that what I'm doing is, "disgusting".
A fit looking young fellow spoke of how he was born with frontal lobe damage because of his mother's drinking. She eventually died in a drunken stupor on a park bench. The boy was brought up by a string of foster parents, some of whom were kind but some of whom were cruel people. From the age of only 11 years old this fellow began hanging around Kings Cross. He led a life that revolved around addiction and everything he ever tried seemed to bury him further into neediness. He ended up owing lots of money to some serious people and last week he took his own life. He was a week in his bedsit unit before anyone looked for him or discovered his body. This man has an older brother who has really made something of his life after an equally, if not worse, start in life. He owes his life to the support that he found in AA. So yet another funeral next week for yet another young man that died before he lived.
You probably know that we're big fans of the Honeybees Choir. They've agreed to make a special appearance on Sunday, 16 June at our 10am church service. We'll build our little service around the choir that day and I can promise that it will be fun as well as inspiring. If you know what a lift a first class choir can give, then make a note of the date and make sure some of this gift is shared by you. We've also got a comedy night happening on Thursday, 30 May to raise money for Wayside. If you'd like to have a giggle and help us out at the same time, we'd love to see there. For more information and tickets, click here.
It's been a funny, heartbreaking, inspiring and frustrating week; pretty much normal.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev. Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Click here to listen to podcasts of past Inner Circle's, aired on ABC 702's 'Afternoons with James Valentine'
Click here to read Graham's editiorial in the autumn edition of On The Verge, Wayside's quarterly newsletter.
Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor