Inner Circle


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

A four-year-old girl stood next to her mother who had come to see me about a relatively trivial matter. The face of the little girl! Anger, fight, sadness and resentment all were clearly present in the face of this baby who clearly didn’t want to be in the room. I knew this little girl, somehow. My heart leapt from my chest at my first glance. This meeting happened many years ago and today, this little face is still with me. She didn’t speak and I’m not sure she could speak. She made noises. She seemed to be keeping her hands behind her back. “What’s going on with this little girl’s hands?” I asked. The mother pulled one of the hands to the front to reveal burns in the pattern of clear concentric circles. The little hand was dreadfully blistered. I could only imagine these burns came from a stove cooktop. I looked with horror to the mother’s face and she said, “She tells lies!”

I tell you that story because I’ve just been similarly captured by another face that will no doubt live with me to my dying day. Today I met a young person, perhaps in their late teens or early twenties and we struck up a conversation about gender identity. The words we exchanged were of peripheral importance to this meeting. Speaking was difficult, a stammering mixed with the sounds that a toothless mouth makes when forming words. But the face! Parallel lines met today. I know nothing of the backstory and yet I know everything. I lost something today. I lost all the things that I was worried about on my way to Wayside today. I lost my health issues; I lost the agenda of my next executive meeting; I lost the philosophy that I’d read last night, but I didn’t lose me. Actually, I found me in this precious face, contorted by hurt and yet with warmth and presence. My contribution to this meeting was nothing and everything. I gained nothing and everything.

A gorgeous old fellow was departing this week to enter rehabilitation in relation to his gambling issues. We sat at a table in the Wayside Café in a circle of four or five mostly young men. My old mate told us that he’d be in rehab for about the next nine months. All at the table were shocked at the length of this commitment and they began joking about whether our old mate would go the distance. They decided to run a book and gave long odds on the fellow staying the whole course. We shouldn’t have laughed at this turn in the conversation but no-one was offended, least of all our brother with the gambling addiction. We love him and wish him well.

A small video was sent to me today from another lovely man who has been in rehab for the past month to deal with his use of heavy drugs. The impact of a life turned is immediate, surprising and welcome. Addictions of all kinds promise so much and deliver so little. I can hardly wait to throw my arms around this dear young brother who has come to life. In the clip, our mate talks of working hard but also eating in a healthy way. To make his point, he even lifts his shirt to reveal his bare belly, rounded for once and the healthiest it’s looked in some time.

We’re celebrating Youth Week. We like to think that young people are mostly spared the harsh realities of life. We like to think some carefree and fun years are quarantined for the young – alas there is nothing fair about this playing field called, “life”. I often try to escape down the back stairs at Wayside, so I can slip out to a meeting unobserved. I have to walk directly past our youth space and it’s always a sensory experience. The smell of bacon and eggs cooking mixed with the sound of washing machines running at full speed and the sight of our dedicated youth workers helping people through the complexities of addiction, mental health issues and family breakdown. It’s a space that is truly alive and I’m grateful to have a place where young people can be nurtured when all other supports have fallen down around them.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


6 April: Captured By A Face

30 March: I'm On Ice

23 March: Another Day At The Office

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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