Thursday, 31 July 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
Some of our funerals are massive and some are tiny. The small gatherings are often the toughest. This week we farewelled a man and only six or eight people came. No one knew anything of the man’s family background. No one knew where he’d come from or what had led him to live a life on the streets. There is a life and a story that is not known. Everyone deserves a dignified farewell and we certainly gave him such a send off. The eulogy at a Wayside funeral always comes from the people who have gathered. The eulogies at this gathering came in just single sentences. One said, “This fellow was a b**tard but he had a good heart”. I was grateful for the few good people who gathered and who were able to pay tribute to this dear man whose story no one knew. We proved that everyone is worthy of respect and we proved that none of us ever see the whole movie, we just see a few snap shots. In this man’s case, the full story will never be known but we can be sure there is a long story and if we knew it, we’d be the richer for it. In stopping as we did; in paying tribute to the life both known and unknown, we did something important.
In our cafe this week a conversation took place about parents in general and in particular our last memories of departed parents. Several people in the circle told touching stories of last words. I told of how my father made his way from his chair to the window of his home to wave goodbye to me, knowing it was his last meeting with me. One young man said, “The last time I had with Dad was when he came into my bedroom in the middle of the night and started punching me while I was asleep. He held a knife to my throat and threatened my life”. These words were not given with great emotion but just as a simple reporting of a last memory.
There is a lovely old fellow who started coming into Wayside a month or so ago and takes part in our mental health program. In another life he was a successful engineer but in recent years his life has unravelled. He comes to Wayside to get some normality. While I was chatting to him this morning he casually mentioned that he was running the City2Surf for Wayside. I had to ask him to repeat himself because I thought I heard wrong. This man is in his 70s! He’s entered in the race to raise money for Wayside because he’s been so impressed by the support we’ve provided to him. What a lovely gift. If you’d like to support him, you can make a donation to his fundraising page here. We’ve got over 30 people running for Wayside this year and I’m blown away by the support of each and every one of them. The runners are hosting a ‘City2Sausage’ fundraising BBQ out the front of Wayside on Saturday, 9 August from 11am-2pm. We’d love to see you there.
Check out this clip made by Beyond Blue. Stop, Think, Respect is the most confrontative but helpful tool I’ve ever come across to help Australia grow up. Anyone can make use of this land; anyone can experience this land but only those who love our ancient people will ever be able to say that they love this ancient land.
My dear friends, let me tell you about a mystery of which I am certain: you are okay. You really don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You don’t have to make your case to anyone. You were born okay and you are okay. The task before you ought not be one where you seek to be someone you’re not but rather it should be one where you seek to be someone you are; someone who was born okay. So many people have dissolved in tears this week in my office as they’ve told me how they’ve pushed away the people they most want to love because deep down, they don’t feel worthy and don’t trust any assurance that they might be worthy. I’d like to borrow the voice of God for just one moment and whisper in your ear that you are okay. Please don’t pull others down to make the point that you are okay relative to someone else. You are okay relative to no one. You’re the perfect example of you. It’s a given. Don’t waste your life making a case for something that is already a given. No job on earth seems harder than to give someone the good news that they are okay. Misery is a prize that we hang onto because it's familiar. What does it take for someone to let go of misery in order to receive permission to live and to embrace life? I’m sure I don’t know but I pray for such a miracle for you today.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev. Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Order your copy of Graham's book, Love Over Hate: Finding life by the wayside here.
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
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