Inner Circle


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

At the front door this morning, a woman stopped me and asked, “Have you got time to speak with me?” Unthinkingly, I opened my eyes wide and said, “I wouldn’t say I have time but let’s sit here and talk for a bit.” Soon I’d forgotten that people were waiting for me because the beautiful face locked with mine. She knew she had my attention and she poured out something that she said she’d been hanging onto for some time. “I want to thank you for loving us. I saw you on the tele just recently and I just knew I had to find you and thank you for loving us. You probably don’t think we’re religious but lots of us pray for you. We think of you as our father. I think of you as “Dad”. Tell me that you’re doing OK because if you need anything, I have friends and we’ll do anything to protect you and help you.” Imagine if I’d have missed this moment by being too busy! What an amazing outpouring of love and what a gush of affection. I thanked her for the love and said, “You are a wonderful lady”. She opened her eyes wide and said, “Oh, I wouldn’t say I was a lady”.

An extraordinary success story sat in my office this week. He was dux of his various schools and prefect or captain. He’d won various university medals. He has studied in the best schools around the world and would be considered a world leader in his field. There ought to be a stronger word than “focus” for the manner in which this person sets goals and then achieves them, no matter the cost of the commitment. It was an honour and inspiring for me to sit with such towering intellect. He came to see me because, “I don’t know who I am” and “everything seems so empty and a waste.” I was not shocked. The only source of information about ourselves comes from others. None of us invented anything about ourselves. We wouldn’t even have the power of speech if we weren’t first spoken to by someone else. If you only relate to competitors, it is hardly surprising that you know not much about yourself. The self is formed in relationships. We need nutters in our lives. We need odd balls and eccentric people as much as we need role models. We are formed in community. Success is good but we need the odd failure to teach us that relationships are essentially not about competing. I made some weird recommendations to this brilliant man that I’m pretty sure he will ignore but he may loosen up a bit and expand his range of relationships.

There are five beautiful children living in a house at Blacktown that I claim as my grandchildren. Every time I enter that house, at least two children have lost their socks. There is always at least one child running late for Guides or dancing or something. Almost always, someone has taken someone else’s dress or shoes or food. It’s loving and it’s chaos. My girls are learning to live with imperfection. They may go to school wearing mismatching socks but they can laugh about it at the end of the day. They may find that a little sister has moved their homework to a secret location. It’s unpleasant and frustrating, but not the end of the world. They learn to drop whatever they are doing because baby brother is crying and they can comfort, soothe and make sure Mum is on her way. We’ve largely forgotten the skills that are learned by living with a mob. With next to no money; there are few luxuries. Keeping petrol in the car and food on the table are serious daily worries. Yet they find who they are together, each part of the other. Sisters who might drive each other crazy will defend each other if anyone dares to attack the other. There is something unusual and lovely in this house. Voices are raised but hugs are frequent. They laugh hardest not at any form of entertainment but at the funny quotes that one of them have made. We need imperfection to survive and thrive.

That’s it. I’m having a terrorism-free, fear-free note to you this week because we need to simply remember to love those around us. You and I can’t fix world sized problems but we can go out of our way to meet Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish and atheist people to foster discussion, understanding and respect.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,



Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

Want to receive the Inner Circle directly into your inbox every Thursday? Sign up here.


Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor

Previous Inner Circles


12 November: To speak is to act

5 November: My cup runneth over

29 October: Prophet and loss

22 October: Finding yourself in a magical team

15 October: A silly question

8 October: Surprised by the joy

1 October: Being dead right

24 September: A day by the Wayside

17 September: It's a gold rush

10 September: The psychology of onions

3 September: Life comes from without

27 August: Surprised by the beautiful

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


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



Get Involved