Thursday, 14 May 2015
Dear Inner Circle,
“Hey, Papa, one of my friends got into a lot of trouble today,” said my 8-year-old granddaughter as I met her at the school gate.
“Really,” I said, “Why did she get into trouble?”
“She was accidentally talking,” she said.
“‘Accidentally’ talking? Baby, you should consider a career in the law.”
“What?” she asked!
“Darling, please say these words for me, ‘Accidentally, Your Honour’”
She repeated the words and I said, “That’s it, I’m saving for a wig and gown”.
My girl looked at me like she recognised this as one of those grandfather moments for which there isn’t an explanation and that it wouldn’t be worth her energy to try and help her old grandfather make any sense.
“Can we get an ice cream?” she asked.
It was my turn to pull a facial expression, waiting for the ‘magic word’ that unlocks the heart and wallet of all grandfathers.
A beautiful little face looked into mine and after pause she said, “Your honour”.
There’s been lots of talk around the SBS program Struggle Street this past week or so. I’m probably not the greatest authority on this subject because most of the people we work with at Wayside, aspire to Struggle Street. The thought of having a roof over your head and the struggle to pay rent and find food and clothing, sounds like luxury to most around here. I saw the program and warmed quickly to each of the characters whom I thought were revealed in their vulnerable but wonderful humanity. I thought SBS made a pretty good job of it however some who had some serious misgivings are far better placed than I to make a judgement and I defer to them. Jon Owen and his wife Lisa choose to live in Mount Druitt where they raise their young family. Jon and Lisa run something that is akin to Wayside but it all happens in their family home. They are inspiring and probably a little crazy. I’m sure they are crazy in the same way that Ghandi or Mandella were crazy. They are proof that angels walk among us. Jon has more courage in his little finger than I have in my whole body and his voice is worthy of our respect. You can read his view on the matter here.
A lovely old thing stopped me at our front door. A softly spoken person with slurred speech is a challenge for me at any time. It took me a while to hear that she was saying, “I need to turn back to the Lord”. I tried to tell her that she wouldn’t have to turn very far because the Present One was always present. Her desire to be more alive was a heavenly desire. Before we exchanged more than a sentence or two another person walked up and interrupted us. “Wow,” I said to the one interrupting, “you look really good”. “Yeah,” she said, “I haven’t used for about a month”. Well, the lady who wanted to turn to the Lord just heard the funniest thing she’d ever heard uttered in her life. The size of the lie that her friend just told me had her literally rolling around our front patio in helpless laughter. “You may have just told me a massive fib, but your friend here was feeling pretty low and you’ve just brought her to life”. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
About 100 people gathered for the launch of our Humans of Kings Cross photographic exhibition the other night. There are 30 portraits hanging in our community hall that are the work of the extraordinary photographer, Katherine Williams. I took some time this morning to do a tour of the exhibition on my own. I stayed in front of each image long enough for them to reach me and call me out of the bubble I was stuck in when I walked in today. I walked out a different man from the hall. I can’t really name the difference except to say no psycho-babble would come close to naming it. I can understand why some cultures are sensitive about photography and reluctant to have their ‘spirit’ captured in an image. I could almost say to each image, “You complete me”. Each one brings something to me and causes me to learn something about me that I never knew until I stood in awe of these faces. If you’d like to learn more about you than you thought you knew, come and visit the exhibition in the month of May and find yourself in the most unlikely places and faces. Click here for opening times.
Yesterday I attempted to walk into our cafe when confronted with a young but sickly looking fellow. It took a moment for me to recognise that this was a fellow who stole from me some years ago. I know his deadly struggle with addiction and I care nothing for what he stole. He only took stuff and I have an abundance of stuff. I thought I might get a sorrowful speech or even a request for money but all I got was a wordless embrace. The embrace lasted a little longer than was comfortable but I recognised a significant moment. He released me and I walked away and somehow I knew, a wound had been healed for both of us.
On Friday 22 May we're holding another of Rob's Tours, an evening tour that goes into the nooks and crannies of Kings Cross to help people understand what it's like to live on the streets of Sydney. We still have 13 spots available to come on the tour with Rob, you can find out more and book here.
This is a note on the run this week but with a full dose of gratitude that you are part of our inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
CEO & Pastor
The Wayside Chapel
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Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
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