Thursday, 17 July 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
“I’m not a fruit cake, Rev” said a man that I’ve come to know better in recent weeks. “I have no mental health issues or drug problems but I need Wayside to get me through the day.” He explained how he lived in a boarding house that was a safe bed for night time but had no place to be through the day. He told me that he had so many medical issues that it was almost a full-time job trying to get the treatment he needs for various things. He said that there is nowhere he can afford to eat and nowhere he can sit in peace without having shop owners or police moving him along. “That’s what Wayside does for me,” he said. “Some of the conversations I have around here are a bit crazy but they are conversations and I value them.” He’d called me aside just to thank me for providing a place where he could feel welcome and part of a community.
The correlation between no housing or poor housing and medical issues is clear. It makes me wonder that if serious money spent on providing low cost housing wouldn’t be off set by savings in the public health system. One man this morning told me with big beautiful, water-filled eyes that he has an open, weeping ulcer that won’t heal. It was a difficult discussion because the ulcer is in an embarrassing part of the body. Although I don’t fix anything, this man’s pain reached right into my soul and I wanted to put on a superman cape and force some hospital to admit this guy and, more importantly, keep him until this wound is healed. Another woman today has feet so infected that her socks have imbedded into her wounded feet. I can’t imagine how socks and feet will be separated.
Several times this week, people have looked me in the face and explained how they have pushed the one they love out of their lives. One of these was fearful, narrow and mad at the world. One was convinced in their own magnetism and certain that a better offer will be just around the corner and another was off on some kind of spiritual journey to find himself. There is a way through to life but it is never by allowing fear to win battles. There is a way to new life without the constant need of a new partner. There is a way to discover the self but oddly rarely when the self is the focus of the activity. I’m astonished this week by how often we get that for which we wish.
For this reason I warn Australia that in seeing value and virtue in meanness; meanness is what we’ll get. We voted for stopping the boats as if those boats were carrying something other than good (and desperate) people needing our help. We convinced ourselves that this was all about boating safety and that the drivers of these boats were villains. Both major parties are outdoing each other in a quest for cruelty. Locking up people indefinitely who’ve committed no crime in PNG, on Chritmas Island, Nauru or wherever, is cruel and shameful. I’m happy for a budget that brings pain to manage national debt but we’ve got a budget that leaves middle class welfare alone in favour of targeting the poor. We voted for meanness and that is what we’re getting. This week two outstanding Australians were honoured for achievements made through breathtaking cooperation. Former Labour Health Minister Neal Blewitt and his counterpart Liberal, Dr Peter Baume, (a former Board member of The Wayside Chapel) achieved world attention by acting to protect Australia from the threat of AIDS in the 1980s. Could you see such an achievement to be possible in our day? Not likely! When we voted for empty slogans, meanness is what we got. We’ve got politicians developing policy from slogans instead of the other way around. We’ve got people on massive pay and conditions lecturing the poor about entitlement. We’ve got devastating cuts to overseas aid. Oh poor Australia! We’re getting what we wanted and it's breaking my heart.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev. Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
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
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