Thursday, 16 January 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
A lady stepped out of our lift yesterday as I was stepping in. Our eyes met and in one instant I was being overwhelmed by a face beaming with vitality and yet it was a face that recalled some painful times. It must have been six years since our eyes had first met. Years ago she struggled with addiction to several substances. I could see great beauty in her then but she always looked sad. She used to wear dark, heavy eye make up that was always running like she’d just been crying. I suspect it was part of a gothic look rather than that she was always in tears. When I met her she had a little girl in her care. She must be only 30 years old now so I guess she was in her early 20s then. She walked into Wayside one day to say that her partner had just died. I remember falling in love with this dear lost girl as she struggled through the loss of her partner and she trusted me to conduct the funeral. The very next day after the funeral, this young woman was visited by the Department of Community Services and they removed her little girl. Having worked in child protection years ago, I have a lot of sympathy for those who work in this area, often making the toughest of calls in an attempt to keep a child safe. Given that it was just the day after this young woman had buried her partner and that I knew how bad she would look in a court of law, I decided to go into bat for her. I made the strongest case I could and to my surprise, the child was returned to her care. I had some misgivings about my own success in this matter on a couple of occasions but yesterday, one look stepping out of the lift and I knew I’d done the right thing six years ago. The little girl is now 10 years old and she’s thriving. The young woman is free of all drugs and finding good support from a couple of support groups. She’s alive and she’s a good mum and they’re thriving.
The buried power of relation rose again yesterday. It was an act of presence. It began when a woman shared with me a story of the happenings of her next door neighbours. I know nothing of these neighbours and expected to have to endure a conversation that I would quickly forget but what I heard was a horrendous story of child abuse and my heart began to ache. What I was hearing was a story about some neighbours and yet the story came from a very heavy heart. The situation next door was dark and full of despair and yet somehow there was more. It became clear that the dramas next door were waking up some personal demons. I started talking to a 40 year old and soon began talking to an 8 year old. I’m so thankful that I offered no wisdom because it would have cut this sacred moment off. Eventually the woman identified and differentiated her pain from the pain next door. She could see that her pain qualified her as a healer but only to the extent that she didn’t need to fix anyone involved. It’s an important lesson. I wish I could teach people that prayer is effective when we no longer desire anything and that we heal best when we no longer need to fix. At the end of the conversation the woman was leaving me to book a holiday. It was a moment of love and transformation for us both.
A woman stopped me in the lane way this morning. “Ave' you got a prayer for me, Farva?” She looked like she had copped a nasty blow to the side of her head. I held both of her hands and said, “My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Blessed are those whose strength is in you; when they pass through the Valley of Tears they will make it a place of springs”. “Yeah,” she said, “that’s for me”.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
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
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