Inner Circle


Thursday, 12 March 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

A lot of people have worked out that the fastest way to get some face-to-face time with me is to come to our Sunday service at Wayside. I have no gatekeepers on that day and so I’ll generally stay until I’ve seen everyone who has asked for a bit of time. Sunday just gone was particularly busy and I found myself saying, “If you’re prepared to wait, I’ll see you as soon as I’m free”. So many wanted a bit of time that day that I finally said to someone, “I’ve already agreed to see a string of people and it will be an hour or two before I’m free. Would you like to make an appointment for through the week?” The person replied, “It was either come here this morning or go to the gap!” She was serious! When we finally got some time together, the person’s exhaling breath was like a convulsion. It was difficult for the person to speak because of the physical demands of her violent sighs. It became clear that this was a good, able and clever person who had for some time been carrying an unbearable burden. Naturally I didn’t fix anything but what this dear person needed at that moment was someone to be with her. It was an honour to be so gloriously useless. I heard yesterday that our meeting gave the person enough strength to ask for help from appropriate places.

I have a strong hunch that addictions of all kinds are not caused by something but rather they are caused by a lack of something. For this reason it is frustrating to fight the addiction without first identifying the deficits that created the conditions in which the addiction could flourish. Addictions flourish when there is a lack; they flourish when someone latches on to a good thing and calls that one thing, the whole thing. (Both people whose stories I am about to share have given me permission to write about them). I met a young woman recently who is addicted to body building. The addiction has taken a toll on this young woman’s body to the point that the option of having children will be difficult if not impossible in the future. She latched onto one good thing as if there was only one good thing in life. She lacked any learning; she lacked friendships; she lacked any hobbies apart from her ‘one thing’; she lacked rest; she lacked any time or opportunity to look at the world and be in awe (she lacked religion). The first step in overcoming addiction is to name it for what it really is - a severance, an alienation from the human need to connect in multiple ways. How can anyone who is doing what they want and getting what they want, have any idea of freedom? This is a beautiful young woman and I love her enough to be on the look out and to live in hope that I’m somewhere around when she begins to long for more.

This morning already a fellow spoke to me of his sex addiction. Of all the addictions in the world, this has to be one of the most debilitating. In the pornographic world in which this man’s life is lived, women are portrayed as wanting their bodies to be used and even degraded for sake of someone else’s pleasure. It’s more than a little disconcerting for this man that real live women don’t work according to this hypothesis. This fellow is fundamentally cranky with women because they seem to be promising something by their very existence but denying the promise to him. I don’t think this man is a danger to anyone but his loneliness is desperate and the more he aches, the deeper grows the depth of his despair. I’d rather deal with heroin than this particular problem. While we were talking, a woman walked past, pausing for just a moment where we sat. The paralysis of the man sitting with me was clearly visible, rendering him dumb and with a fixed gaze that meant he couldn’t see the woman. How can a man in whose body lurks a ghost - the emptied capacity to relate as human - find the strength to address this deficiency by name? How can a man who sees what he wants to see ever find that for which he is looking? I like this man and can see that there is much more to him than this debilitating preoccupation. There are ways out of addiction, even this one. One day this man will name his headspace for what it is and the journey to real life will begin; a world filled with persons, will open up in all it’s glorious presence.

I once sat with a man in the Empire Hotel in the Cross and he held up his beer and said, “Hey Rev, this is my last beer ever!” Now what do you rate the chances of that statement as being true? A mature view would rate the likelihood of truth at close to zero. It was however, the man’s last drink. Five years later and that same man is living a wonderful, whole if not problem-free life. He’s working full time; he’s completed some lower level education and is pressing on toward higher education; he’s in a long term relationship and has formed some enduring friendships through involvement in his wider community. These good things have filled the deficiencies and guess what…no addictions remain.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Rev Graham Long

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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