Inner Circle


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Walking through the café yesterday I saw a man spot me and raise his hand high. His rather lovely face lit up because someone had told him I was too busy to come down and have lunch with him. I was too busy but suddenly my agenda evaporated. It’s funny how an authentic meeting between two people just melts away everything else. In my social work days I was a fanatic for a system of analysis called, “transactional analysis”. For quite some time, every encounter I had with people was analysed according to this system that imposed a framework of meaning onto every act of communication. At the time I didn’t see it, but it caused me to develop a language that was not really human. It caused me to be more interested in finding meaning than finding the person in front of me. I was a problem solver in those days. My naïve religious outlook back then was that Jesus must have been a social worker too. In due course I could see that Jesus was nothing like a social worker and no matter how you analyse his encounter with the woman at the well, he simply broke all the rules. He’d certainly not get a job in any agency I know of. Anyway, this lovely face lit up as he bought me lunch. With great ceremony he handed me $20, telling me that it was a debt he owed me. I had no memory of any debt. He explained that he was robbed at an ATM about a month ago and I lent him $20 to get him through that weekend. I know this man just lives on a small allowance that the public trustee provides and so I said, “But there is no need for you to buy me lunch.” His reply was, “But that’s what friends do”. Lunch was a celebration of many good things.

So our High Court ruled yesterday that our government does not commit an illegal act when it keeps people in detention overseas. I have some understanding of the complexities facing our government when it comes to controlling our borders, I’m just bewildered and wondering what happened to the Australia I grew up in. I am deeply saddened that the 267 asylym seekers, including 54 children, who came to Australia for medical treatment, are now facing potential deportation, an act of blatant inhumanity. We are knowingly putting children into harm’s way. What happened to the moral truth that the end does not justify the means? I am making a desperate plea to the Federal Government to act with humanity. A week ago I was singing the national anthem at an Australia Day event. We sang of boundless plains to share. We patted each other on the back and congratulated each other about our values of mateship and a fair go. What we’re doing to the 267 people seeking asylum on our shores has nothing to do with mateship or a fair go. To sing the national anthem today and mean it is an act of supreme contradiction. The Wayside Chapel will do everything in its power on every occasion to treat people with the dignity their humanity deserves. Wayside came into existence in 1964 as a sanctuary for people who didn’t fit anywhere else. Every day since first opening its doors, Wayside has been a place free of judgement where the most vulnerable people in the community can find a safe place to access support. Our doors are open to everyone in need. We don’t distinguish between the rich and poor, the housed and homeless, the sick and well or the saved and lost. And we certainly don’t distinguish between citizens and refugees.

The day is yet young but it already has something of a dental theme running. A fellow stopped me in Hughes Street today to tell me that he’d lost his teeth. I made a few funny suggestions about where his teeth might be while wondering how he thought I might know something about it. He smiled and I was surprised to see he had no teeth. Although it’s rather ridiculous, I keep thinking about where the man’s teeth might be. Another rather solid looking man asked to talk to me confidentially. Sometimes if I need to be free of interruptions, I’ll take someone to my office or sometimes we’ll go to a café around the corner. I chose the café around the corner and I bought the man a coffee and a cake. He has some serious issues to wrestle with but I was amazed when he took his teeth out to eat his little tart. He must have seen my facial expression and so he told me that the dentures were new and he wanted to save on wear and tear. I kept my teeth in for the occasion.

A young woman with serious mental health issues came to see me this week because she had witnessed the suicide of her carer. Within seconds I could tell that this woman’s foundations had crumbled from underneath her. An older couple who are part of the St Vincent De Paul Society jumped in to support this young woman, doing everything that they could do, as if this girl was their own daughter. While they expressed considerable fear that their efforts for this woman might not be enough, they never-the-less will stand with her no matter what for as long as it takes. There are some amazing people in this world whose goodness will never make headlines. This couple displays what is best in our community.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


PS. This year, instead of chocolates and flower bouquets, we’re encouraging people to spread the love much further for Valentine’s Day and donate a pair of undies to someone sleeping rough. It’s the little things that make a big difference to our visitors. You can find out more and donate 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


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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