Thursday, 8 August 2013
Dear Inner Circle,
My heart is breaking for a woman who each day this week has shown up here drunk, unable to express her pain in any other way but to bash her head against a brick wall. It's a most distressing sight and there is no way to communicate with someone so drunk except to show kindness. Each day we've had to call for help and our volunteers and staff, police and ambos have shown extraordinary patience and care and copped the most vile abuse from the mouth of this troubled soul. Each day she's been restrained and placed in the ambulance which drives down the street to the muffled yells of, "Get F#%^&* you Mother F#$#@%^". To be clear, I probably didn't hear the words, "Get, you or Mother". I'm inspired by the tenderness shown by our people and by police and ambos and I'm left wondering what kind of pain causes you to bash your own head in that way. This is one of those situations when we do whatever we can but are pretty helpless except to feel the pain of a beautiful life being wasted.
As just such a scene was being played out one day and everyone's attention was demanded, I was walking toward Wayside and I came across a man in his thirties, sitting against a wall in our alley way, sobbing. I sat next to him for a bit and asked, "What's up?" He said to me, "Everything I can see is ugly and I'm ugly." I believe I might have caught this man in a moment of "turning". He couldn't see any positive paths ahead of him but he just refused to give up on the idea that his life should be more than what he knows. I said to him, "You know how today is different from most of your days? Today you're not primarily concerned about how to kill your pain but rather you're wondering if there is more and something that up to now, you've not known." Such a moment will not be wasted if he now acts. Sentiment is of no value until it makes the feet move. I'm hoping his feet are going to move him to our AA group.
It looks like a wonderful group are coming to the Imperial Pub at Paddington this Sunday night. The purpose of the night is to create community. We're hoping people will relax, enjoy the atmosphere and a meal. We're suggesting you arrive around 6ish and organise food and then at 7pm I will speak on the subject, "There is no such thing as a single human person." That will be followed by some Q and A and then I hope lots of conversations around the room. "Meeting" is the object. I promised that next month on September 8, Malcolm Turnbull would speak but it now turns out that our General Election will be held the day prior and it would be inhuman to expect Malcolm to do any public speaking that night. He's promised to speak at this event in the near future. When I get a speaker for the September event I'll let you know. There will be no promotion, no fundraising, just community. It's not too late to book a place for Sunday night, just email Guy Cooper and let him know that you're coming.
On my way through the door a big, beaming smile stopped me in my tracks. I said, "You look like you just found $50". The darling man who's been really struggling for some months said, "I slept in a real bed last night." He's been sleeping in parks or riding the train to Newcastle every night but yesterday we found him a bed and for the next 7 nights he is assured of a good sleep. This one beautiful smile today has reminded me that I haven't got much to complain about.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
PS. If you want to catch up on the media around the launch of my book, you can do so here.
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'
Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
Thursdasy, 1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views
Thursday, 25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside
Thursday, 18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage
Thursday, 27 June: Holy ground
Thursday, 20 June: You cannot take what can only be given