Thursday, 21 August 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
How easy is it to forget that words carry meaning? To live and work at Wayside is to become tone deaf to the most vile language. It seems that a history of damage often produces a person whose judgement of others is bitter. Around here, “mother” is the first syllable of an offensive swear word. I’m sure those words roll over me without the slightest impact. I’m sure they carry no mental pictures for me; through constant use those arrow tips, designed to wound, have turned to jelly. In rare moments I sometimes hear the tragic, sad and hilarious loss of language itself. Yesterday I heard someone yell, “You’re a C**T and every C**T around here knows you’re a C**T.” In other rare moments the words themselves carry the meaning they were designed to carry with shocking effect. Today a young man was called a “mother****er” and he dissolved into a rage of helplessness. As he walked up the road he kept turning around and in a high pitched voice yelling, “But my mother died”. In just another six steps he’d pause again and yell to no one in particular, “My mum is dead”.
A warm shower on a wet day and after a cold night must be one of the most appreciated things Wayside gives to people. One of the staff phoned me on Monday to tell me we’d broken our record for the number of showers given in a morning. I forget what the record is but the clear message is that its busy and there are a lot of people in need. We’re right out of socks and we’d love you to donate a pair of socks or go through your old sock draw and organise a whip around at work. You are our inner circle and our secret weapon. Thanks for always being keen to help in practical ways. Thanks for being willing to keep a sole dry and warm.
Being closeted away with 50 Uniting Church Ministers is probably not your first suggestion for a fun two days. Never-the-less I had the privilege to be in discussion with my colleagues this week around the topic of leadership. We were honoured to have Tanya Plibersek and Malcolm Turnbull share and I assure you their wisdom was gold and warmly appreciated. We had two top professional business coaches (Tracy Shatak and Linda Martin) share their wisdom. We had Amanda Tattersall from Sydney Alliance share her passion and wrestle with us too. There was opportunity for much catching up as well as stretching to imagine a shared destiny. The church has a bit of a gift for holding things they call meetings, in which no meeting takes place but this was a break with tradition. At Wayside we often use the line, “We’re not much like a church which might work for you if you’re not much like a Christian”. I’m not sure the Uniting Church is quite ready to adopt such a slogan but I assure you that good people are seriously willing to bend a long way to move into the future no matter how difficult and unfamiliar.
This week, I also had the pleasure of spending some time with a politician that understands the good of humanity. Minister Ajaka, NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability Services visited Wayside on Tuesday to see our Day to Day Living program. In his maiden speech he said "We must act generously with grace, with compassion, with concern and with justice. But, it is not enough just to do the right thing to others. We must love the act, and we must love the people for whom we are striving". How good is that!
Our TVs are showing us regularly the worst of humanity and its sad and disturbing but I remind you that we are surrounded by people of good will who spend their lives to make this world a better place.
An older bloke stopped me recently and thanked me for all we do. “Do you know what Wayside gave me?” he said. “It gave me normality!”.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev. Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Order your copy of Graham's book, Love Over Hate: Finding life by the wayside here.
Click here to listen to podcasts of past Inner Circle's, aired on ABC 702's 'Afternoons with James Valentine'
Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
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