Inner Circle

 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Dear Inner Circle,


A state of blind fear overtook me the first time I had to conduct a funeral with zero information about the deceased person. I’ve had to do it so often now that I’ve learned to take my queues from the people in front of me. Normally at a Wayside funeral, plenty of people are willing to speak about the life of the deceased person – even those who have never met the person are often keen to share with us how they might have felt, should they have met them; it’s an endearing feature of a Wayside funeral. At the funeral I conducted on Monday however, not too many of those gathered knew the woman deceased. They had gathered instead to support her partner, who is a softly spoken, gentle man, grieving deeply for the loss of his loved one. If our dear man couldn’t speak, I was going to be in trouble.

We discovered that the woman and her partner had met at Wayside. They fell in love and ran off to the country where they enjoyed each other’s company until she became terminally ill. The man is a character out of a Henry Lawson short story. He’s a man who for many years has lived out of his car when in the city, but spends most of his time in the countryside, travelling from farm to farm, doing odd jobs until he’s saved enough to travel on to another farm. One look at this rather short man and you know he’d be more at home around a camp fire, smoking and telling stories than living in the city. He has the most faithful little dog in the world. If he commands the dog to ‘stay’, it will wait all day until the man returns. The woman was escaping domestic violence when they met. She brought an entirely unexpected dose of colour and fun into our dear friend's life. He talked of all manner of animals who shared their living space. He spoke of sheep with painted toe nails. He spoke of an adopted goanna that would knock on the door with its nose when it needed attention. We laughed, we cried and we held hands around the altar. We said goodbye to a good woman and we stood with a tough old nut with a heart of mush. We do important things here.

Another wandering spirit called me from a country town in Victoria. Her partner was also dying and she couldn’t get a priest or a minister to come to the hospital to give the last rites. In some distress she phoned me to see if I could do such a thing over the phone. “Of course I can sweetheart. Put the phone onto loud speaker and set it near his head.” The patient was not conscious but I knew our little telephone ceremony was more about calming the nerves of a dear lady who was about to lose the love of her life. The Uniting Church has no sacrament of ‘last rites’ but Wayside is used to being the church for people rarely touched by the church. Later the same day, the woman rang to thank me and tell me that her partner had died. We bend a lot of church guidelines here and we care little about correct procedure, but we are the church and this is what the church looks like in Kings Cross. Perhaps we don’t look much like a church but it works for people who don’t look much like christians.

Invited to participate in a panel discussion at a conference for financial advisors last week, I found myself sitting next to Wayne Swan and some world class dignitaries in the field of financial matters. This must sound like the opening line to a joke but it really happened. I looked down the line of dignified people and expected the audience would burst forth in a rendition of the Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the others…” I was fascinated to hear their concern for social justice as well as some of their anxieties about this uncertain world. I managed to keep a sense of decorum until the very end when I saw an opportunity to crack my famous penguin joke. It's a visual joke so I can’t share it here however the conference ended with my impression of a penguin. I kid you not. It’s not always a good idea to let me out unsupervised.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Graham


Rev Graham Long

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

www.revgrahamlong.com

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Previous Inner Circles

2015

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

2014

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

2013

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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