Thursday, 19 December 2013
Dear Inner Circle,
There are almost 10,000 of you in our inner circle and you are an impressive lot. One of you heard of a man’s dramatic life turn around and paid a year's rent for the man. One of you gave me enough money to remake the garden of a man that has only a short time to live. A lawyer recently read an inner circle and offered his services to a person I’d written about. A small group of you heard of another guy who landed a job after years of unemployment but needed a car so you lent the money for the man to buy a modest car. That was a loan but it was given at almost no notice and I’m pleased to say the money was repaid in full. The staff here joke about how when I ask for razors or soap or towels or blankets that the goods start marching in the front door just minutes after the note to the inner circle goes out. One member of the inner circle bought 10,000 blankets when we were running short. Storing so many blankets became a major headache but what a problem to have. Thankfully there are still plenty of blankets on hand for those in need of some warmth at night.
We’ve reached the end of what has been an awesome year. We love our building but I’m just as proud of the team we’ve built. We have an extraordinary team of people and for each one that has toiled this year for the sake of the people we serve, I stand in awe of you and offer my thanks and admiration. For the over 680 active volunteers who serve in a wide variety of ways, I thank you for your pure gift and for inspiring the rest of us. For the members of our Board who ensure our governance and finances are right, I offer thanks on behalf of everyone. For all the companies and experts who have given their services this year for help with everything from graphic design to auditing and the bewildering number of ways in which we’ve been the object of so much good will, I offer our deepest thanks.
It’s been a year of pain, passion and purpose. I’ve sat at many death beds this year. I have sung to people as they transitioned out of this world. I’ve been called into rooms where someone’s son or someone’s daughter lies motionless, their struggles all over. I have placed my hand and said prayers at these moments with tenderness, as if it was my own son or daughter or brother or sister. I’ve witnessed some, who seemed committed to their own destruction, come to life. I’ve seen the moment of turning. I’ve heard the words, “I’ve always blamed others but you know what, Rev, it’s me that kills my own chances for life.” I’ve seen families that were decimated by drunken and hateful words reconcile and move to better days. I’ve seen marriages this year that I thought were over come back to life and I’ve witnessed forgiveness and love renewed.This year I married lots of people, buried lots of people and christened lots of people. I managed to squeeze out a book this year and it has sold and still sells well and the publicity it earned for Wayside was astonishing.
We are throwing a street party on Christmas Day as usual and you are warmly invited. There is a simple church service in the street at 10.30. Our own choir will sing and Geoff Bullock will be on the keyboard. The short church service will be followed by our usual street party. We’ll fill the street with happy music and you’ll see street people dancing in the street. If you missed out on a voluntary role but would like to make a contribution, just come and bring a smile and a willingness to say “hi” to people and to wish them well on this special day. Share something of the joy of our mission in a community of no 'us and them'.
Thanks for being our awesome inner circle this year. The pain, joy, struggle and celebration proved once again that you can’t measure the fullness of life by how many times you breathe but rather by how many moments take your breath away. Wishing you a happy and safe Christmas and New Year that leads to life. I’ll begin writing again in early 2014.
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
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