Inner Circle


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

It’s not easy to sit with someone you respect and tell them that you are without answers. It's particularly hard, for high achieving people who in their professional lives, are fixers. An attractive, intelligent woman’s face began to contort as she spoke to me about her son. In due course, big heavy tears dropped down her face and yet her speech remained controlled. Absorbed by this beautiful face, I could see the unbearable pain of every parent I’ve ever heard whose heart aches for their son or daughter. They’ve been to every kind of professional there is, and yet, her boy harms himself in a way that reveals deep, unfathomable pain. His mother would gladly cut her own arms off if it relieved the pain of her son. They have fought a battle for some years and the family all suffer traumatic stress daily, hoping for a miracle and dreading that one day, it may become post-traumatic stress they suffer. Once again I was gloriously useless and a tower of weakness that just allowed this pain to be, perhaps, between us.

“Hey Big Fella” came a voice from across the road as I was walking through the main drag of Kings Cross. I have a bad habit of calling men of all shapes, sizes and ages, “Big Fella”. I have no idea where I picked up this habit and often wished I could lose it. My problem is that I’m relatively good at identifying faces and just dreadful at recalling names. I often resort to coughing at the right moment or using terms like “Big Fella” to hide my mental deficiency. “Come in and meet my friends,” said the voice. I was ushered into one of our less salubrious pubs. My mate was so proud to have me in his favourite drinking hole that he took me around the whole pub and introduced me to every drinker. It got a bit comical when we got to the poker machines as not one of those players was the least bit interested in pulling their eyes away from their jackpots, soon to be delivered in the next single, or perhaps endless, press of the buttons. Nevertheless the people serving behind the bar all treated me with great respect and told me that they know Wayside does a lot of good for the community. I finished sitting with a group of seven people. My friend, the “Big Fella”, was proud to introduce me to each of his drinking buddies. Each person shook my hand and told me along with their name, the name of the poison that they either drink or ingest. One had no drug issues but did have a serious problem with poker machines. It was so odd, that six strangers immediately thought they could be so open with me about such sensitive and difficult things. I left in just minutes but each of the seven around my table expressed thanks to me for visiting as if I was royalty or as if I’d shouted the drinks. I was honoured to be with them.

My granddaughters ask every week if they can stay for the weekend. They love me but proximity to the beach also plays a part in this request. Last week I told them that my weekend was just too full of work. “We could help,” said Miss 10. “We could just put that ‘ribbon thing’ around our necks and we could marry people and bury people.” She asked her sister, Miss 12, “What do you call that ‘ribbon thing’?” “A stole” said Miss 12. “Why do they call it a stole?” “Because Papa probably didn’t pay for it.” Watching kids form their own sense of humour is one of the greatest things in life.

An older lady who has lived on the street for many years approached me this morning as I walked toward Wayside. She tends to set up camp somewhere in the Cross and her camp grows until eventually she has a proper mattress and a complete wardrobe set out neatly on the footpath. In due course, someone complains and council come, clearing the footpath so that she loses once again all her worldly possessions. She’s been part of Kings Cross for so long that I notice that many locals love her and often leave gifts on her mattress. Yesterday I saw someone walk past her camp and leave some fresh fruit for her. Not always, but mostly if she approaches me, there is a fair chance that I’m about to be hit up for some money. I find myself searching my pockets when I see her in anticipation of the financial hit that’s coming. This morning I was preparing to tell her that I just had no small money and she’d have to wait for a better moment. Before I could speak, she cupped both of her hands on my face and said, “You look tired, I’m worried about you.” I said something about being tired but she didn’t want to be fobbed off with a trivial answer. “Are you eating properly?” “Are you sleeping well?” At first the hands on my face felt a bit invasive but soon I recognised that I was being loved by a beautiful woman and her hands could have been the hands of my own Mum. I’m working my way through a fairly demanding Thursday with a sense that I am truly loved by an extraordinary old lady. What a start to the day!

Thanks for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


16 March: A Good Start To The Day

9 March: Permission To Be Human

2 March: Every Life Celebrated

23 February: Surprised By Joy

16 February: Wayside Isn't A Place, It's An Activity

9 February: Heavy With Meaning

2 February: The Danger of Stability

26 January: Australia Day

19 January: Wow

13 January: The Joy of Being Useless


22 December: Miracles in the Messy

15 December: A Season for Demons

8 December: Soul Restorer

1 December: Holy Ground

24 November: Opening Presence for Christmas

17 November: On Our Best Behaviour For a Day

10 November: A Seismic Shift

3 November: Outcomes by Accident

27 October: Wow! Look How Far You've Come

20 October: Moving Toward Our Destiny

13 October: A Tribute

06 October: Risk and Sacrifice

29 September: Wisdom in Unconventional Places

22 September: It's What We Do at Wayside

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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