Inner Circle


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Dear Inner Circle,

In the café yesterday I saw a young fellow, who had cooked his brain, walk around aimlessly picking up items that clearly didn’t belong to him. It didn’t look like his intention was to steal but rather it looked like he had no idea what he was picking up or why. Eventually, someone noticed that their coat was in the possession of this kid who seemed to be laying it out on a table as if to iron it perhaps. Naturally, all hell broke loose. Our staff were on it quickly but it provided a genuinely distressing few moments. I was sitting with a bloke who I’d not seen in some time but our conversation had to end in such an anxious atmosphere. Everything settled and the bloke next to me said, “I love Wayside because you get dinner and a show”.

Rarely am I in a state of shock but the revelations from the church about sexual crimes against children have caught me off balance. The world that I knew changed this week as it was revealed by the church that up to 40% of people in one religious Order could be considered to be predators. In other religious Orders the estimate was 20%. I just can’t seem to regain my balance. I’ve been inclined to defend the church because I’ve known hundreds of nuns and priests who have served humanity with their whole selves, embodying all that is finest and inspiring in their roles of teachers, philosophers, social workers and chaplains. I have two academic degrees from Catholic institutions and I will be forever grateful for the depth of love and the incalculable gift of philosophy, theology and history poured into me by masters in their fields.

Until now I’ve been inclined to defend the church against those crusaders who seem to gain joy from pulling the rug from underneath anyone in authority. I’ve been annoyed at the rather late development of a conscience that reels in horror at revelations of child abuse as if most of the population had no part in the society that paid no attention to the plight of vulnerable children. With my own eyes in days gone past, I saw people call police to respond to allegations by children, only to be told that, “this was not police business”. We snarl now at bishops and others who failed to call police and yet just one generation ago, rarely were such things considered to be matters for police. I come from a world where the testimony of a child counted for nothing in a court of law nor in any other place. I’ve seen predators in the church, in the school system, in social clubs and in government organisations of many sorts, moved out of town to protect local children and the good name of the institution. Warnings were given within organisations to new towns, in whispers. This policy, operated mostly by people of goodwill was catastrophic for children.

This week, my plea for balance has come to an end. Surely the church has lost its authority to speak on any matter. Surely from this time on, a clerical collar or a bishop’s mitre will bring only derision in the hearts of Australians. Our culture knows nothing of the ancient rite of public lament but I can think of nothing else in response to this week’s revelations. We should tear our clothes in sorrow and wail as we sit, humiliated, in sackcloth and in a pool of tears. When we’re done crying, it will be time to extract enough wealth out of the church to cause some religious Orders and some churches to go out of existence. The wealth of the churches must move in compensation to the victims of its sexual predators and from this time on, it is the cries of the children and not preposterous and educated voices of the churches that should remain in our ears. Much will be lost and good social projects will cease but this will have been the achievement of the churches themselves. As the cries of the children form our future path perhaps we’ll finally see that the greatest blasphemy of all is to set up a God-franchise. These days can only lead us to death or rebirth.

In a couple of hours, I’ll conduct yet another funeral and this week we have learned of two more deaths among the people we love and serve. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry.

With a heavy heart this week, I 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


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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