Inner Circle


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

Have you ever listened to three entirely unrelated conversations, all directed at you, at the same time? This is my occupational hazard. Such moments are most disarmingly absurd when one of the discussions reaches a point where some question is asked and I’m expected to make a response. Although all three men were sitting at the same table and all three were talking at top speed, no one was even vaguely aware that two other conversations were taking place at the same moment and all directed toward the one person, me. It seemed like this stream of disconnect could go on for a long time when suddenly I was shocked to hear one of these men directly address another, “You stole my phone you low life c***”. As the first bit of direct communication to happen at this table in thirty minutes, I was surprised. I wondered what kind of response person A could possibly be expecting from person B to whom he directed his allegation. Perhaps he was expecting, “Golly gosh you’re right. I stole your phone. Here it is.” Perhaps some direct communication that was a little less accusatory may have made a more useful approach. Alas, the response came back, “Don’t you call me a c***, you c***.”

You’ll be surprised to know that the above conversation escalated into a parallel universe of human contradiction. Both young men stood up and the volume rose as the content of the language sunk ever lower. You might not think there was much room for the tenor of the language to go down, but trust me, it did. “You’re accusing me of taking your phone, so let’s take this outside.” One man’s embodied contradiction was so profound that his arms extended backwards as if he was showing restraint while his chest was puffed forwards and used to confront and attack Mr A. In the complete miscommunication that followed, there was one moment revealing a capacity to think and be coherent. Mr A said, “And if we go outside and you beat my head in, it will only prove that you are a thief and a bully!” I felt like cheering out loud, not because I had any idea if anyone had stolen anything but because it was the one slice of communication that showed someone listened to someone and responded to what had been said. Cheering on my part at that moment might have destroyed the appearance of objectivity. Instead I said to Mr A, “If you “know” this man stole your phone, go to the police because you must have evidence. If you don’t have evidence, then you don’t know he stole your phone. You only have a hunch.” I told Mr B to, “Settle petal and go for a walk.” In fact I walked with him for a block to give him a chance to express his moral indignation at being accused of being a thief. It reminded me of the time when a young fellow ran into the café and came straight to me, yelling with the same kind of indignation, “Rev, there's thieves around here!” Definitely a funny moment.

Softly spoken people are causing me no end of heartache these days. Admitting that I needed hearing aides was difficult for me and having spent more money on them than I would spend on a car, I’m hearing pretty much every sound in the world except the voices of people I actually want to hear. This morning I sat with a rough diamond who began to tell me how much physical pain dominates his every moment. I think he was telling me that the pain comes from his gut. My hearing aides were turned up the maximum so the sound of passing traffic was unbearable yet again and again, I asked this man to repeat himself. When a rather tough looking man has tears flowing down his cheeks, you don’t need a lot of words to know what is going on, but I was so relieved when a staff person arrived so that I could alert them to sit alongside this poor man and find out what was happening. As I tell you this story, I’m reliving a funny incident that happened back in my South Australian days. I used to appear at every court hearing that involved a juvenile. One day, Johnny was before the court and he’d been making a habit of such appearances. It was his bad luck that one particular day he copped a cranky old magistrate that used to peer over his reading glasses and mumble. I rarely heard anything the magistrate said. Before the matter commenced I gave Johnny a pep talk. “Don’t put your hands on your hips. Look straight at the judge and if he asks you something, answer in a clear voice and don’t screw up your nose.” Finally, the magistrate looked over his glasses and said to Johnny, “You’re nothing but a thug and a nuisance.” Johnny shoved his hands on his hips defiantly, screwed up his nose and said, “I’m not a f***ing nuisance.”

Thanks for being part of this inner circle,


PS. Our Twilight Drama Group have been rehearsing to stage a reading of the play "Cosi" by Louis Nowra. They'll be performing at Wayside on Wednesday 27 April and Sunday 1 May and I urge you to come along. You can find all the details 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


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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