Inner Circle


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

An old lady died this week. She was born into an Australia that knew a lot about economic depression and next to nothing about government support. It was a world of hard work. As the eldest daughter in a large family, her lot was about raising younger children and endless domestic duties. Her education finished at primary school because there were many brothers and they needed to be fed and their clothes washed. An old wood stove seemed to perpetually burn with soup for strangers and a kettle constantly ready for a cup of tea. There was no entertainment in the house except for when the family sang together or laughed together. After the lady got married she was amazed at how her parents could suddenly afford some labour-saving devices like a washing machine.

The lady’s mother had agoraphobia before anyone knew the word and so as a little girl as young as seven years, she would toddle up to the bank to bring home wages for the men in her father’s joinery. Her mother was sharp, all the prices for timber and quotes for building jobs were at the top of her head. Her father was a big burley builder. She adored her father who once every night would walk into a room full of children that ought to be asleep and say a prayer. One night she asked her father to pray for their pet dog who had taken ill. The father hesitated and she knew that he thought perhaps prayers for dogs were not in order. He prayed for the dog.

The lady fell in love with a soldier. He’d served in Darwin as an army nurse during the bombing and was on leave in her home town. The soldier came across a group of kids singing Christian songs on a street corner. The soldier thought the young girl playing the piano accordion was the most stunning girl in the world. He left the army and studied to become a minister and they married.

She loved her husband. She believed in him. She taught her children to honour him. He adored her. Every morning of their married life, he brought her a cup of tea and toast on the best matching plates they owned. Their children knew that they had been born into a love story that included them but was never all about them. They had five children but their home was constantly filled with 'strays'. The meal table rarely accommodated the immediate family. All kinds of people who had no place at any table, had a place at this lady’s table. Everyone got fed and everyone got loved.

The endless series of strays were a burden to some of the siblings. At times the siblings would roll their eyes and slap their foreheads when some lunatic remark was made. The complaints rarely broke the sound waves because nothing was clearer than these people could be loved in this family and they had as much right to love as anyone else in the world. This was love, not as ideology but as lived action and it couldn’t help but have a formative effect on the children.

Family trips were sometimes arguments between squashed kids and less than comfortable guests or they were a session of singing in at least a four-part harmony. All the songs were religious. They taught about a reverence for life, about a judge higher than any authority on Earth, about the power of love to overcome death and about heaven to come. Nothing was actually said about heaven to come, except that it was to come and so life was to be lived reverently and with a sense of purpose and urgency.

The lady had no education but she was sharp. She could smell a lie. She had no end of health tips that didn’t make much sense. Wearing a singlet seemed to be important for staving off most diseases. A brown paper bag on the chest under a singlet could prevent sea sickness. She had no interest in theological arguments. Faith was about living and loving not about reasoning. She knew that love trumped reason; it didn’t repudiate it but it trumped it. She had no interest in the television. She never got a joke in her life even though her husband was the joke teller of all time.

She watched her siblings all grow relatively wealthy and though she was one of the hardest working people to have lived in the past one hundred years, she never had any money. She banked everything on love. Even as an old lady with dementia, she loved the people who came to sweep the floors or give her a shower.

Her death, like her life, was hard work. Before she lost consciousness, she couldn’t swallow and her tongue had swollen so that her weak little voice could barely be understood. The last conversation was when her daughter asked her how she was going. Her last words were, "Real good".

This tiny woman, the warrior of love, died this week and I’m counting just how many ways I’m thankful that this was my Mum.


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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