Inner Circle


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

From about fifty feet away, a booming voice yelled, “Is the complaints department open yet?” “No” I responded, unable to match the volume coming at me. “I never take complaints before the first cup of coffee”. The voice could register on the Richter scale and I wasn’t sure it was friendly until I was right beside a bloke that looked like he’d lived rough for a long time. Although the face was uncared for, a smile communicated wonderful warmth. I sat beside him and it became clear that he was just happy to talk to me for a while. When I got up to walk away, he said, “I’ll save my complaints for another day”.

How disappointing love can be. I remember when my son was little, after a rough day I’d rushed home without a chance of buying him one of the little surprises that I’d normally have with me. He searched my pockets and could hardly believe that he found nothing. I tried to calm him by saying, “Dad doesn’t have any lollies or surprises today, I only have love.” He threw the biggest tantrum imaginable. Countless times since then I’ve brought discontent when all I had to offer was love not lollies; presence not presents. It’s especially hard when someone asks me to fix something that I’d desperately love to fix. Then I’m a disappointment to myself. When my son died, I was helping his widow get the kids through the bath one evening and our four-year old looked at me with a hopeful face that I will never forget. “Can you bring my Daddy back?” she asked. I was shot in the heart and stayed that way for days because there is nothing in this world I wanted to do more than bring her Daddy back. It took me ages to realise that I could do no more for this precious girl than I could do for anyone else. I could only be with her. I was living in the shock. I was living in the disconnect of the unthinkable. I was living in the powerlessness and the broken heartedness of love. How I wish I was superman, faster than a speeding bullet, but I’m only a man. I’ve shared all this before but this week on several occasions, people have looked into my face, looking for magic and have been disappointed to discover only love.

Yesterday I heard a classic bit of gutter counselling. The counsellor was a rough diamond with a beautiful caring heart. I couldn’t catch all that was being said because of the traffic noise but I heard a few sentences. The counsellor was saying, “Man! You start to use drugs and it’s just recreation and all is cool. Then you’re doing it regularly and it becomes something of a lifestyle”. Then he looked at me for the first time and said, “Then you think to yourself, ‘I’ve just spent ten years thinking mostly about drugs!’” The man being counselled doesn’t have any drug problems but he does have a real battle with the black dog. The counsellor then said something quite revealing and with real insight. “Occasionally,” he said, “you’ll be travelling along a road and you’ll see another road that should have been the one you were travelling on. It could have been your road instead of the dumb road you’re on.” The fellow being counselled looked at me and said, “I think someone threw away my global positioning system.”

We’ve lots happening this month at Wayside. For the next three Tuesday nights at Bondi I’m teaching a course on the history of philosophy. It’s a quick dose of ancient on week one, medieval on week two and modern on week three. It is the broadest of brushes but it will give some ideas on how our culture was formed. It’s already heavily booked but there is room for a few more. We’ve also got a four-part series with Yoke Magazine starting tonight at Kings Cross. The sessions will combine yoga with discussions on service to the community, you can book your tickets here. Next Thursday, 8 September at 4pm the lovely Indira Naidoo will be hosting a tour of our rooftop garden. And finally, at 3pm on Sunday, 11 September, there be a concert given by The Café of the Gate of Salvation in our chapel at Wayside Bondi. I promise you that if you’re feeling a bit ordinary, this concert will lift and inspire you. Find out more about all these events here.

As I write this, the next Wayside book is being printed. It’s a follow up to Stories from the Wayside and it’s an absolute cracker. Photographer Gary Heery has found beauty in the faces of people in our community in a way that will warm your heart. It also includes a series of letters that I’ve written to people who have impacted my life, along with excerpts from the Inner Circle. We’re currently seeking the expertise of a publicist and an event manager to help us launch the book. If you’re interested in finding out more, please email Laura Henry.

That’s enough eh? Thanks for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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

Previous Inner Circles


25 August: Words as weapons

18 August: Wattle become of us

11 August: Precious and fragile

4 August: A wave from Wayside

28 July: Understanding bedlam

21 July: Time for some straight talking

14 July: Holy ground

7 July: Sowing in tears, reaping with shouts of joy

30 June: A bit of banter about Bondi

23 June: My cup runneth over

16 June: Injecting some joy

9 June: At the end of the line

2 June: Lots of perspiration and a touch of inspiration

26 May: Swimming against the tide

19 May: Every 7 days but not weakly

12 May: I once was blind

5 May: A place to belong

28 April: Lest we forget

21 April: I've seen into the abyss

14 April: Colourful language

7 April: Poetic licence

31 March: Happy in the Cross

24 March: Easter

17 March: A party mix

10 March: The intimacy of everything

3 March: An unusual look

25 February: He ain't heavy

18 February: Tears of laughter and sadness

11 February: Wisdom is a tricky business

4 February: A wave from The Wayside Chapel

28 January: Some long distance loving

21 January: No time for judgement


17 December: Last note for 2015

10 December: Sanity Clause if coming to town

3 December: It's all about the presence

26 November: The joy of not knowing

19 November: The curse of perfectionism

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



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