Thursday, 15 August 2013
Dear Inner Circle,
Intriguingly, the human spirit soars in proximity to where it dumps with a hard landing. People often ask how I carry the load that comes with Wayside as if it's always bleak. But Wayside is a place of the most wondrous outpouring of human goodness. This is the place to come when you want to see giving on a grand scale. We have 500 volunteers who give their time and expertise every week and they mostly leave saying they received more than they gave. Ponder that for a bit. Each of these 500 could have been watching TV or spending time with their families or be out making money, but they show up here faithfully and serve others and usually leave happier than when they arrived. It is a daily revelation of truth and no doubt, Wayside volunteers are just an amazing collection of people, through whom this truth is revealed. Every week someone who we don't even know walks into our place to make some kind of generous gift to others whom they don't know. Someone walked into Wayside this week with 50 new jackets of the best quality. It happened to be the birthday of one lady who received one of these jackets and she literally squealed with excitement. Another fellow who walked in soaked to the bone couldn't believe his luck when he was offered such a good quality, warm jacket. We saw him later the same day and he was still soaked to the bone. We asked where his jacket was and he showed us how he'd wrapped it up to protect it from the rain. Maybe he'll find it safe to wear it when the weather is warmer! I guess the person who bought these jackets couldn't possibly estimate the joy that was unleashed by the gift. Rarely do we see the effect of our own generosity but I'm here to bare witness to how a gift that cost thousands unleashed a tide of goodness worth millions.
We also have the honour of talking about Wayside to lots of groups and regularly share the joy that comes with our vision of creating a community with no 'us and them'. I spoke to a group of about 90 people in a pub in Paddington last Sunday night and I shared our Wayside vision of the world. Isn't it amazing that so many people came out on a Sunday night when they could have been at home watching the debate between the political leaders. OK, not a strong argument. It was a wonderful event and there was real community happening in that room at that pub. I went home more alive than when I walked in because I had received a gift; the gift of community. I spoke to a group of people who work with the deaf yesterday at their annual conference. On my way out the organiser said to me, "Every time I meet you, I'm left wanting to be a better person". Again, all I did was talk about the mission that underpins all we do here. I was sent a text later that day that said, "Some people here were in tears after you left for the best of all reasons. They said that they thought you'd have difficulty connecting with deaf people but they realised that you just connect with anyone." How lovely is that? Such a reaction and such a gift and all I did was share the Wayside vision and land it on their particular runway.
On my way past the cafe yesterday I was called over by a woman to see in her pram a new born puppy. Her dear little thing could not have been more than a week or two old. As I was admiring a cute puppy face the woman asked if I would christen the puppy. I'm pretty sure the Uniting Church rites do not allow for the christening of animals. I'm sure it didn't show but it was a bit of an awkward moment. I asked myself what the Moderator of the Uniting Church would do and then I asked myself what Jesus would do and I went with the latter option. Nothing wrong with grabbing my stole and giving a puppy blessing.
My Dad was the son of an alcoholic in the Great Depression and although he worked hard all his life, he never had a dollar. He literally never carried money at any time. He used to say to my mother countless times, "We're richer than millionaires, Joyce". I think he was right and I send this note today thankful for the riches we share every day in this odd place called "The Wayside Chapel".
Whether you're reading this or hearing it on the radio, I'm grateful that you are part of this inner circle,
PS. Open Gardens Australia and Indira Naidoo are hosting a tour of our rooftop garden next Thursday, August 22 at 4pm. We'd love you to come. For more information and tickets, click here.
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
Thursday, 8 August: Small is beautiful
Thursdasy, 1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views
Thursday, 25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside
Thursday, 18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage
Thursday, 27 June: Holy ground
Thursday, 20 June: You cannot take what can only be given