Inner Circle


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

By the time you read this note, I’ll be in Adelaide to celebrate my Mum’s 90th birthday. She won’t believe for a moment that she’s 90. She knows she has a son with my name but she’s pretty sure that her son wouldn’t be anywhere near my advanced age. She is still a dear, sweet lady but it’s a difficult path she’s on. Ageing is not for wimps!

It’s 10am on Wednesday as I write this and I’m seated in a cafe in the main drag of Kings Cross. Actually I’m seated in the very seat that Animal usually held court and often referred to as his office. It’s hard to sit here without keenly feeling the loss of our dear Animal.

An old lady with stooped shoulders just walked past wearing a long white dress with white flowers in her hair. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was in her eighties but she projected both weariness and a flare for fashion and for life. She’s carrying what looks like a violin case. Sitting in front of me is a man who I recognise as a visitor to Wayside. He has just a tiny circle of hair on the top of his cranium. The hair is a bright purple colour and gelled so that it stands straight up in the air. A dear old bloke that I don’t recognise is walking toward me who looks like he’s in great pain. He’s limping and his facial expression suggests that either his foot or knee or hip is giving him a lot of pain. He’s making his way to me and so I suspect he recognises me…Well, the old fellow just wanted to say, “hello”. It doesn’t cost anything to brighten up someone’s day.

There is a light breeze today in the Cross that gives relief from the humidity. It’s quite a lovely morning.

There is a young woman working the street near Porky’s over the road. I know her. She told me a month ago that she was giving the game away but I guess it’s easier said than done. She is a country girl and she has a kindly face. Her family know how she makes a living and she carries an unbearable shame that I think she shares with no one. It’s an honour that she shared this pain with me. I hope she finds her way out when she’s ready. Rumours about big money to be made in the sex industry are mostly rumours. This woman works long hours and can go for days without turning a trick. There is nothing easy about her life.

I could stay here for ages just watching the world go past but there is much to squash into the day. There is more going on at Wayside right now than there is here in the main drag. When I arrived at Wayside this morning at about 7.30am an older bloke, perhaps 60, yelled out to me. “Graham! Just the bloke I’ve been looking for!” The big news was that he had passed some written test that was part of one of our programs. I almost glazed over as if this was just an annoying sound bite on the way to my meeting but his eyes filled with tears. He explained that he was dyslexic and had never been able to read or write, let alone pass any test. This was massive news and I nearly missed it. He told me of how he used to get belted at school for not being able to put two syllables together. I told him that my older brother had the same issue and that I have dreadful memories of seeing him being hit because of his inability to know that Syd and ney could become Sydney. I made it to my meeting in time this morning and I’m so grateful that I didn’t miss this gem first.

The greatest resource in this community is under our nose and yet a lot of economists give it a nil value and in recent years, many politicians and all manner of clever persons give it a negative value. Our greatest resource is each other. Australia is becoming a harsher place and we’re becoming hard-hearted in the process. In a “winner takes all” culture, everyone loses. We’ve developed a taste for labelling anyone who is frail as a “loser” and we seem to have no idea that most of us are frail most of the time and all of us are frail, eventually. I’m not the only voice crying in this wilderness but I’m afraid the good news of immeasurable riches is being drowned out by hard-hearted people who resent having to help others. In such a cold atmosphere is it any wonder that depression rates soar among the wealthy and the poor? It is any wonder that addiction has become a way of life? Under our very noses are the riches we really need. Our most valuable resource is each other. Competitors can become brothers and sisters. Problems can become people. A lonely struggle to survive can become an awesome journey of discovery. The invitation into community is always present but easily ignored while we’re getting on with business. See if you get the invitation today.

We have a few spots left on a tour of Wayside and Kings Cross with our very own Rob Holt this Friday evening. Rob draws on his own experiences of homelessness and addiction to provide people with a rare insight into life on the streets. Book your ticket here.

We’re right out of socks and undies again so if you or your office organise a little undie project, we’d be most grateful.

Thanks on behalf of the knickerless and thanks for being part of this inner circle,

Rev Graham Long

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor

Previous Inner Circles


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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