Inner Circle


Thursday, 27 April 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

Amazingly, culture seems to hold memory that has an affect long after the memory of actual events has passed. Isn’t it astonishing that children still sing, “Ring-a-ring o' roses, a pocket full of posies, a-tishoo! a-tishoo! We all fall down.” This rhyme was first published in 1881 but its origin seems to be much earlier. In the days of the Black Death or in the great plagues, it was believed that the plague could be caught through the sense of smell and so people carried rose petals in their pockets, but as soon as someone began sneezing, “we all fall down”. It is believable that this song is a living memory of the many plagues that swept Europe in the seventeenth-century. In 1665, nearly a third of London’s population was lost to the plague. That the great fire happened the next year makes me think that anyone of my age, has had a pretty lucky run. No one remembers these things yet we still sing the song.

This country began as a British prison and church attendance was essentially a punishment imposed by the establishment upon uncivilised prisoners. The early magistrates were often parsons who were rarely noted for the depth of their compassion. Rev Samuel Marsden was known to impose 500 lashes for relatively minor offences. It meant that an offender would be lashed until their back was pulp, carried away until their back healed and then returned for more. It might take five sessions before the sentence was completed. Do you think this early memory is not retained in our culture? We’ve long forgotten Marsden but when clergy are portrayed on TV, we usually see a sanctimonious character that is usually privileged and either pathetically irrelevant or viciously narrow.

During the ANZAC parade we witnessed this week, I heard one band play “It’s a long way to Tipperary.” Who in Australia knows where Tipperary is, let alone how far away it might be? Who of those who gathered at Gallipoli this year knew they stood on the ground of an utter military fiasco, that the soldiers of the time resented? Who of those who gathered at Villers-Bretonneux knew that they gathered at the place of the greatest Australian military victory, probably in history? The young especially seem to know nothing of these things, and yet, the memory remains in the culture, playing an active part in the lives of our young people. An old bloke like me just has to hope that this doesn’t translate into the “glory of war.”

If the past continues to have a formative effect then you have to wonder what kind of world we’re creating for future generations. I fear we, our children and grandchildren, could pay a terrible price for our actions. We’ve made education ever tougher for the poor. It’s almost like we’ve had a policy of creating an under-class and we’ll pay a high price of social unrest. We’ve quietly accepted the growing inequity between rich and poor. Increasingly, we hear the poor being blamed for this state of affairs. It has become somehow “shameful” to claim an aged pension. Last week a “crackdown on dole bludgers” was all over our papers. Refugees are considered with fear; we push them back and banish them to offshore detention while we sing, “For those who come across the sea, we’ve boundless plains to share.” We will pay a price for this iniquity. Have you heard of Professor Munjed Al Muderis who fled Iraq and caught a boat to Christmas Island, and who is now a world-leading surgeon in a technique that is getting soldiers with no legs to walk again? The whole world is proud of this bloke and they’re coming to Australia to learn from him. How many people like Munjed Al Muderis have we kept away by stopping the boats?

Already around the world, people are voting for anyone who doesn’t sound like a regular politician. There is growing cynicism with Western democracy. Already there is a generation who have little interest in politics or even in reading or hearing the news because they’ve decided that none of it can be trusted. To whom will this generation turn? We ought to be worried.

To balance all this darkness, three little girls walked up to our front desk this weekend. Lucinda, Hunter and Sasha were about nine or ten years old. They are students at Darlinghurst Primary School. They held a cake stall in Beare Park for Wayside and walked in proudly with the $152 that they’d raised. They set off a wave of joy around Wayside that was worth ten times that amount of money. Sometimes our youngest citizens are our biggest inspirations.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


27 April: Better A Troubling Prophet Than A Dead Loss

20 April: ANZAC Day

13 April: Easter

6 April: Captured By A Face

30 March: I'm On Ice

23 March: Another Day At The Office

16 March: A Good Start To The Day

9 March: Permission To Be Human

2 March: Every Life Celebrated

23 February: Surprised By Joy

16 February: Wayside Isn't A Place, It's An Activity

9 February: Heavy With Meaning

2 February: The Danger of Stability

26 January: Australia Day

19 January: Wow

13 January: The Joy of Being Useless


22 December: Miracles in the Messy

15 December: A Season for Demons

8 December: Soul Restorer

1 December: Holy Ground

24 November: Opening Presence for Christmas

17 November: On Our Best Behaviour For a Day

10 November: A Seismic Shift

3 November: Outcomes by Accident

27 October: Wow! Look How Far You've Come

20 October: Moving Toward Our Destiny

13 October: A Tribute

06 October: Risk and Sacrifice

29 September: Wisdom in Unconventional Places

22 September: It's What We Do at Wayside

15 September: The Joy of Being Wrong

8 September: Turning Toward Love

1 September: The Power of Weakness

25 August: Words as weapons

18 August: Wattle become of us

11 August: Precious and fragile

4 August: A wave from Wayside

28 July: Understanding bedlam

21 July: Time for some straight talking

14 July: Holy ground

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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