Inner Circle


Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

A successful man sat in my office just now. He owns his home and has lived carefully for the past two years on savings. He could exist perhaps another six months on savings but the need to find work is looming as an urgent problem. In the past two years, many of his friends have married or had children and circumstances have evolved so that he is living the life of a recluse. A rather drunk recluse. Sitting with me just now, the man was quite sober but his body twitched and his lips quivered as he made what he thought was an unthinkable observation about himself. “I don’t know why I’m here,” he said. I told him a joke.

The question of ‘why am I here’ is only posed by those for whom no answer exists. It’s a bit like knowing that questions about the meaning of life are only posed by those who are not in love. People who love, simply don’t ask the question. This man didn’t need 'a reason', he needed, 'a connection'. Although he wasn’t expecting a joke, he was soon laughing and we began sharing not just jokes but family stories. He told me after about 15 minutes he was feeling so much lighter. He may have been just keen to get out of the room but I suspect it was a liberating meeting for him. This person, like all of us, is designed to live in connection. We are designed to live in community. He had built something of a cocoon for himself and a thick mental fog had descended upon him. I encouraged him to get involved in volunteering until a job becomes available. Even if he disliked his voluntary role, it would be connection. A real connection doesn’t have to feel good to be healthy.

Last week I told you of a young bloke who has a number of women pregnant. We’ve spoken two or three times but the first serious discussion happened only yesterday. We were leaning on the garden bed near the footpath and instead of him showing off as if these pregnancies were a personal achievement, I was able to ask him about the difficulty that various women must be in right now and more importantly, a number of children who will be born into a situation of a dodgy or, perhaps, no male role model. As we became more serious he said, “I don’t know why I’m so needy.” I stopped him and asked him to repeat his statement. I shook him by the hand and said, “At last, you’re asking the right question.” I told him that I think I was about 50 years old before I asked myself the same question and for me it was a turning point. I became friends with my own frailty and even developed the capacity to laugh at myself. It was the beginning of a life, more satisfying than I had ever imagined when I was ruled by a greedy need for comfort. The young bloke has agreed to see a counsellor that I believe will be effective with him.

A large slice of this city is grieving the loss of Sam de Brito this week. Sam was a journalist whose sharp intellect constantly provided food that nourished Sydneysiders. Sam often phoned me for philosophical discussions. One of our phone calls began with, “So what on earth was Martin Luther’s problem?” Sam wasn’t religious and I think he liked crossing swords with a clergyman. We developed a deep mutual respect. He’s the only bloke who has ever spent time with me in delight over the philosophy of Boethius, born in the 5th century. Our chats gave me life and I will miss Sam. My heart aches for his family whose loss cannot be measured.

An intelligent, likeable, energetic young man who we recently helped move from the street into housing is bursting to life like a flower that suddenly opened to capture us all with its beauty. He’s keen to find a clarinet. He often plays the piano in our chapel and he’s clearly gifted but he told me he’s really keen to take up the clarinet as it was a childhood ambition. I believe such things are expensive and I don’t want anyone forking out for an expensive instrument but if someone had an old instrument that needs some work but would do the job, I’d be pleased to give it a new home.

Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do and thanks for being part of this inner circle,


PS. We're currently looking for a Pathways Worker to create and facilitate vocational, recreational, education and employment pathways for visitors. Find out more here.

Rev Graham Long AM

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


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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