Thursday, 6 November 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
Exactly one year ago I told you of a young woman who walked into Wayside and asked to see me. Her head was covered by a veil and she couldn’t look me in the face. Her speech was difficult because her whole body was shaking. She told me that she was in trouble. A lot of trouble! In order to escape a situation of unspeakable domestic violence, she had set fire to a home while her husband was asleep. The end result was serious damage to property, serious burns to a large percentage of her own body and an uninjured but insanely angry husband. Her world had crumbled to the extent that this drastic action seemed like more or less her only option. She would have been content to lose her life in the fire. She walked into Wayside on the day she was released from hospital; she had no plan and no where to go. I remember holding her in my arms as I said an ancient prayer and wondered if she would ever see better days.
This same woman walked into Wayside last night to show herself to me. I was struck dumb by this beautiful, vivacious, outgoing woman and I really struggled to believe it was the same woman that I met one year ago. She didn’t have to say a word for me to recognise a rare miracle before me. All evidence of burns on her face are gone and instead her eyes literally dance with life and speak without need of words. She is employed full time and she has a secure place to live. She visited yesterday only to show me how far she had come. She told me that the prayer I said a year ago was her turning point and she quoted it back to me. I get quite used to seeing people in the worst moment of their lives and it was a rare and beautiful moment for me to talk to this young woman and rejoice in a life recovered and discovered.
When I finally walked out of Wayside last night, I was hoping to make a clean escape. As soon as I stepped out the front door a young woman cried repeatedly, “Father Graham!” It was dark but I could see her facial expression and I knew she was lost and frightened. “Pray for me Father Graham”. I put my arm around her and she put her head on my shoulder. “Pray that I will be warm and safe” she said. She shot me in the heart! You can’t pray a prayer like that and then walk away. The woman’s understanding of prayer and mine were miles apart. She wanted me to say some words and she believed that some magic would be imparted. For me, there is no magic but only relationship and love. I prayed the prayer and then went and hunted down a warm jacket. It was a rotten night last night and I couldn’t arrange for the woman to be safe. I guess there is no such thing as “safe” for a young woman sleeping rough. I woke several times during the night with my heart aching for the young woman and hoping that she was ok. I’ve been looking for her this morning but there is no sign of her yet.
Our mission at Wayside isn’t short term. We aim to create community with no ‘us and them’ and we witness and celebrate the healing and creative power that comes to anyone who realises they are not alone but rather they belong with and for others. One of our values is known as, “No Rush” because we know we can’t make people wake up to the power of community by any act of our will. If we could do that, we’d be guilty of manipulating people. Another of our values is known as, “No Complacency” and it describes how we are constantly on the look out for sparks of life. Perhaps this is the day that someone will be sick of being sick. Perhaps this is the moment when two faces will meet. Perhaps this is the moment when all distinctions like helper and helpee, housed and homeless, sick and well, good and bad, saved and lost, all melt away and lose meaning. Perhaps this will be the moment when we know there is just, “us”. We sometimes witness the mission that calls us, unfold before our very eyes and then for a while we know that the power of presence trumps the power of power. You are our inner circle and you’re famous for jumping in to help in practical ways.
Right now we’re short on razors and right out of blankets. Could you organise a whip around or see if there is a blanket in your cupboard you can do without? Thanks for being our amazing inner circle.
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Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
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