Inner Circle


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

As a young man, I liked to think I was pretty bright. In my mid-twenties my head was awash with Freud, Ellis, Berne and the like. I wanted to serve people well but in the process I ran a solo commentary on how the world worked. I look back in horror and embarrassment at my pretentious twenty-something self. Knowledge comes through books but wisdom comes through pain.

In the little town of Waikerie, South Australia, I ran a visiting service for a government department whose primary responsibility was child protection. The office I used had no receptionist and no telephone; just a sign on the door to say that I’d be there on Fridays. No one had thought of mobile phones in those days. I started each visit with a full waiting room and I’d work until everyone had gone. They were often long days with no way for me to make enquiries for people or ask for help when my way got difficult.

One day a woman walked in with her daughter who I imagine might have been four or five years old. I will never lose the image of the little girl’s face. Her facial expression was akin to a snarling dog and yet she said nothing. I’m not sure she could talk. She seemed to be hiding a hand and so I gently pulled her arm up so that I could see her hand. Her little fingers were badly burned and blistered. The pattern of the burns suggested to me immediately that the burns were caused by a hotplate. The sore hand had received no medical treatment and had swollen to become as large as my hand. “How did this happen?” I asked the mother. She replied, “She tells lies”. I felt sick. Nothing I had ever learned was any good to me. I had no phone and no one to ask for advice. Under all my fundamentalist Christian formation was a question that gnawed at me for years. Where was God when that little kid’s hand was being held on the hotplate?

A couple of months later, I helped another mother with seven kids run away from the domestic violence of her drunken husband. The family lived on a part of the Murray River that was miles away from anyone or anything. On the day of escape, two of the children were unexpectedly with their father and so we escaped with Mum and five kids. When the husband returned, he was so incensed that his wife would leave him that he took his five-year-old daughter, put her in a weighted bag and lowed her into the river. The child died. My soul numbed for years until I could bare to ask myself where God might have been when that little girl was being lowered into the river.

It took me years to be able to ask my question let alone move toward an answer. Today, I know where God was when the little girl was mercilessly lowed into the Murray River. God was, “in the bag”.

Easter makes no sense except to reveal that there is no God-forsaken place where God isn’t. There is no person who is too far gone. The is no hole you can fall into where there is not goodness and hope at the bottom.

That is my Easter message for this year. When you are bewildered by Christians who observe this season and seem to honour what looks like an act of unspeakable brutality, understand that they know; God is in the bag.

Thank you for putting up with my odd religious message and thank you for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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