Inner Circle


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

A rather well-dressed man made an appointment to speak in my office. We’d never met but he’d been part of this inner circle for some years. A man who had accomplished much found himself unable to cope with a work colleague. He described what certainly sounded like some pretty unfair events in the recent history of his workplace. Even so, the emotion seemed to loom larger than the events themselves. We chatted for the best part of an hour. I should say, he chatted and I mostly listened. For some reason that I can’t remember, the man began to talk of his mother. It became clear that nothing in the work place matched the trauma this man knew with his mother. I was amazed as a story of abuse unfolded and became darker and darker, including an event when his mother held a loaded gun to his head and claimed the right to end his life if she so chose. Suddenly and without any prompting from me, that man said, “I’m getting these two stories mixed up aren’t I?” It was a revelation that surprised him even as the words came out of his mouth. A thoroughly good man revealed his own secret to himself and left determined to do better with his difficult colleague. He gave permission for this story to be told as not even his close circle would spot his identity here. What a blessed and privileged life I lead.

At Sydney airport recently, I made a visit to the men’s room. I washed my hands and noticed as I turned the water off that the tap had a spongy feel, almost as if the tap was not firmly attached to the basin. It was not worthy of a look or a second thought. When I was about 10 steps away, drying my hands, a loud voice yelled, “Hey you!” I looked to see a rather tall man who appeared to be looking at me. “You must turn off the tap,” he yelled. I noticed that a tap, presumably the one I used, was still running slightly. I was surprised enough to hesitate for just a moment but the man increased the volume. “You must turn off the tap!” I felt like saying, “Well you’re over there standing right by the tap and I’m up here near the door. How about you turn off the tap.” There was no time for me to say anything because once again came, “You must turn off the tap.” I walked back briskly and pushed the tap shut. We now walked to the door more or less together, so he opened the door but turned around blocking my way and just so I would be unlikely to forget this lesson, he repeated, “You must turn off the tap.” I wanted to say, “Thanks for the conversation. It’s been nice talking.”

How many times in my life I’ve seen ‘rules’ overshadow relationships. How tempting is it to think that this world’s ills would be fixed if only we all kept the rules. Clearly, the world needs rules and there is no virtue in chaos. But humanity only flourishes in the grey. Humanity flourishes in the middle where there is some tension between rules and chaos. Aristotle taught us that right behaviour is always the mid-point between deficiency and excess. We make rules at Wayside; we must do. Chaos would overtake us in a minute if we didn’t constantly assert control and bring order. Yet when we really hit our mission of creating a community with no ‘us and them’, there are no rules. Our mission admits no rule. When we love, we act for the good of the other. Sometimes, those who work for chaos and those who live to enforce rules are equally equipped to kill human flourishing. I’m often conflicted at Wayside as we make all kinds of policies for good order. I vote for good order but I know when there is an awesome meeting; that moment when a spark in the eye indicates a life is turning; that moment when someone looks around and suddenly sees that there are others with them and for them; I know that boundaries are going to be jumped. I think it was Saint Frances who said to his disciples, “Love God and do what you like”.

Is there anything more delightful than watching a three-year-old engrossed in a world of her own imagination? I saw my granddaughter engrossed in a game with some of her toy fairies. As the game seemed to draw to a close she said, “If you’ve enjoyed my show, please subscribe”. Her Mum said, “Oh no! She watches too much YouTube.”

Thanks for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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