Inner Circle


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Walking into our building the other day I heard sobbing. It was the kind of sobbing that comes from the boots, through the heart and out through the throat. It couldn’t be ignored. I looked around to find a young fellow, I’m guessing perhaps 30 years of age, doubled over and between sobs, saying that he can’t find a way off the street and that he is at the end. I saw that he was talking with Kate, an angel visiting from heaven and a staff member who makes all of us look good. The young bloke couldn’t have been in better hands. I got on with my day but happened to be downstairs again in the mid-afternoon. I could hardly believe it when I heard the same voice, sobbing once again. This time the young bloke was talking to John who was also in tears. They both turned to me and quickly explained that this time I was hearing sobs of joy. The young bloke had just been offered a one-bedroom flat by the public housing authority. In just a few minutes the young man displayed the key to his new place as if I was having trouble believing the story. In just a few minutes it became clear that the difference between this being a story of success or being yet another story of suicide on the streets, is the achievement of our Community Services team and particularly, John.

Guard against the constant drip of the media that would cheat you out of your humanity. Sometimes I’ve been involved with something that has included a politician and I’ve been astonished by the venom that is poured out upon them by social media. Once Tanya Plibersek made a wonderful gift to me by speaking at an event for which she had to sacrifice her time with next to nothing to gain for herself. After the event, social media was deluged with comments assuming the worst and lowest of motives. It was wrong and a judgement not against Tanya but against our culture that is losing the possibility of seeing anything positive. This week the Prime Minister spoke with a homeless guy in Melbourne and put five dollars in his begging cup. In our mainstream media followed accusations that the PM was “stingy”. This story was reported around the country and was even reported in the New York Times. Now I never tell anyone to vote for any political party and I don’t mind when people criticise government policy or lack thereof, but to call Malcolm Turnbull “stingy” is an outrage. When I came to The Wayside Chapel, we had next to no staff, taking more risks than Evil Kanevil by running seven days a week in the hands of uncoordinated, mostly unsupervised, good-hearted volunteers. Our building was 40% condemned and deteriorating by the month. I conducted weddings standing in an inch of water in our old Chapel. We seriously considered whether Wayside had met its end. Yet we rebuilt the place, beginning with literally not one dollar and we finished the project debt free. We got some help from Premier Rees and from Kevin Rudd, greatly assisted by Albo, who will always be held in high regard around here. But half the project was funded by private citizens and the first two to jump in with us were Lucy and Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm has been here many times, sometimes with cameras and many times without. He’s put on an apron or sometimes just sat and spoken with homeless people in our community. Many times since those days when we were on the brink, the Turnbulls have helped us with breathtaking generosity. I happen to know that the help we’ve received is just the tip of their charitable iceberg. “Stingy” is not a word I’d ever use to describe our PM. Imagine the story in the media if the PM had put $100 in the cup? Our culture will be crippled and miserable when we become incapable of seeing an act of compassion.

Last Sunday we baptised a fellow who had lived on the street for many years. He served in our military in his younger days and seems to have been not able to cope with life after his service. We love him and he dragged his family from all around to witness his special day. After I said the opening prayer, I opened my eyes to find a darling old man not one inch from my face. It was a surprise. His breath technically made our building a fire hazard. At one point the dear fellow gave us a recital on his didgeridoo as a gift to the man being baptised. I thought it prudent to keep his breath well away from our burning candles. You could never accuse our little Sunday gathering of not being, “Spirit filled”.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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