Inner Circle


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Sometimes these notes come from a heart that is overwhelmed by beauty. Sometimes the heights to which the human spirit can soar fill me with hope and in my own feeble way, I seek to create a note that points and bears witness to that which is hidden in plain view. To the extent that I have ever felt like I’ve succeeded, I probably blasphemed. Sometimes it feels like I’ve reluctantly received the gift of stigmata and blood pours through my hands, all over my keyboard and into my text. Sometimes, perhaps often, both events occur in the same note.

So I stood in silence this week with a woman, one of her hands in mine and the other on her son’s coffin. How she had fought for him. How she had believed in him when all others gave up. How she saw beauty and potential even when her son couldn’t see it in himself. It had all come to this moment. There were no words, just one hand in mine and one on the coffin. There were no words. Perhaps for this lady it was a moment of defeat but I suspect not. I suspect this was numb love. I held in my hand a beauty beyond imagination. Some things cannot be squashed even by death. I know something today that I didn’t know on the day when I had one hand on my son’s coffin and one arm around his daughter. Love is not diminished. Pain sharpens and dulls and sharpens again but love remains real and deep. I can’t begin to explain it really but the pain of love refines me and renews me. It’s a pain that has loosened the grip of many stupid things that once loomed large. It’s a pain that helps me see what truly matters. It’s a pain that helps me name things for what they really are. It’s a pain that causes me to talk back to the TV and empowers me to switch things off. The pain of love empowers me to yell, “empty” to many things that present themselves to us as full. The pain of love empowers me to whisper, “absence” to many things that appear to promise presence. Mostly, the pain of love empowers me to find my centre not within but between. My way is heavier at times than I think I can bear and yet I’m free from fear of reputation, fear of gain or loss, fear of fear.

An act of incredible generosity this week put me in the front row of Cirque du Soleil. People performed the most breathtaking athletic moves and if I was any closer, I’d have been part of the act. I wondered what could be more inspiring or more excellent than this spectacle and then I looked down the row to my right and saw the faces of four little girls whom I love, filled with wonder.

A week ago the choir The Café of the Gate of Salvation sang at our Bondi chapel. Initially, they sang a few numbers outside in the mall at Bondi Beach. A crowd of hundreds quickly gathered and the involuntary smiles and enthusiastic clapping showed we’d created a special moment in this busy public space. At one stage the choir sang some hallelujahs that seemed to reach deep into everyone’s souls and implant some joy. The biggest drunk in Bondi was particularly swept into the moment. With one hand held high toward heaven, holding his can of spirits, he began to dance and sing his own hallelujahs. As it happens this dear old drunk loves Graham Anson (our Minister at Bondi Beach) and Graham loves the old drunk. Some in the crowd were a bit anxious and offended, but for those of us who had eyes to see, this was a moment when hundreds of fully composed people were taught and lead by an old drunk. I loved it, Graham loved it, the choir seemed ok with it. Great moments are so easily missed especially by those who see it has their duty to manage.

Another funeral here in just an hour or so. I best get moving.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


15 September: The Joy of Being Wrong

8 September: Turning Toward Love

1 September: The Power of Weakness

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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