Inner Circle


Thursday, 17 December 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

OK, who stole 2015? This is my last note for the year as next Thursday will be Christmas Eve and Wayside will be running on adrenaline by then as we gear up for our street party. Perhaps it’s a feature of old age or perhaps it’s a characteristic of having fun, but time appears to accelerate. Get a bit of a feel for the year we’ve had by checking out our recent Annual Report.

Our awesome mission, to create community with no ‘us and them’, has set a path for our feet and the more we’ve moved toward our destiny, the more others have jumped alongside, contributing what they can and watching the impossible unfold in front of us. It’s not in the realm of ideas that our mission unfolds. I think it was Kierkegaard who said you can only “understand” your life backwards but you can only “live” your life going forwards. Our mission has lived this year in teaching people with mental health issues to surf down at Bondi; it's lived in moments of celebration when one of our visitors gets off the streets; it's lived in acting classes, in choirs, in music jams, in celebrations of countless things. It’s lived in the life of our little café, a place of meeting or refuge, of conversations or of no words at all.

This year our Christmas appeal was focused on getting our café funded for another year. I was a little shy to jump in this direction because it’s not easy to explain how a low-cost cafe is one of our most strategic programs. Walk into the café on any day of the week and you’ll see people sitting around eating meals. It doesn’t seem like much but spend a little more time and you’ll soon see it’s a place of miracles. It’s a place where people who have been pushed to the fringes of society can feel safe and accepted. It’s a place where our community workers can build trust with people and encourage them to move towards better days. Our café is not a soup kitchen but a tool in our bag for community making. It’s fundamental and crucial to Wayside’s existence and helps to give dignity to those buying a low-cost feed or a cup of coffee. As of this moment we are $60,000 short of our goal for our appeal but I’m delighted to tell you that one very generous donor has promised me $50,000 if I can find someone to match their gift. If there is such a person in the world who is able and would like to see a gift of $50,000 doubled, it means the funding for our café would be secure not for 12 months but for 15 months! If you or someone you know could help us, please get in contact and help support our place of miracles.

Here’s a story! The City of Sydney organised this week a, 'one stop shop' to descend on Wayside. Homeless people often find it hard to organise housing because proof of identity is required and there are many bits of paper needed to get through an application for social housing. The ‘one stop shop’ brought a dozen or so agencies, including Births, Deaths and Marriages and Housing NSW together at Wayside so that all bureaucratic issues could be dealt with at one time and in one room. They interviewed 38 of our visitors that morning and were able to help 37 of them! One man who has been living in his car for four years waited for a few minutes but lost confidence and headed downstairs. He told Una in our Community Services Centre that no one could help him. Una gave him the Scottish version of, “Don’t you dare give up. Get back into that room.” He did and he was able to be housed that very day! We had the unspeakable joy of watching him explain his good fortune to his dog. His dog is a cross between a Staffy and a D9 bulldozer. As he began to say, “We’ve got a house, mate”, you’d swear the dog understood and was already asking questions like, “Will we have a bed and can we get a TV?” Amazing moments abound and heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Trina from the City of Sydney for making this happen.

So thank you dear Inner Circle for reading all our notes and making room for Wayside in your hearts. In our Christmas appeal letter I told the story of Kelly* whose history of abuse, addiction and homelessness was nothing short of heartbreaking. She usually kept to herself but she discovered that she enjoyed quilting when it was set up in our café. I’m certain that if we’d have asked her directly to join in, she’d have run away. She was so proud of the quilt she made and I was so proud of her. I told you that Kelly was quite ill and that I would be surprised if she made it to Christmas. Well, she didn’t make it. We lost her this week. Kelly was never a “client who had her needs met” here. Kelly was a person whose story is beyond the capacity for most to imagine and we knew her and we loved her. She found in our café a safe place, a cheap place for good food, a place where she could sit in peace, a place where she was known and belonged. Just days before her end, she was viciously assaulted and robbed. Her body was 46 years old and her face was 96 years old. Knowing Kelly was transformative for us. We have something in our souls that could come no other way but from Kelly. We’ll bury her here and we’ll cry and laugh and thank God that we were here for her.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle. I’ll start writing again in mid January.


PS. Come on Christmas Day if you can. There is a short celebration on the street at 10.30am and lunch is on at 12pm. You don’t need an invitation to come. Just bring a smile and be prepared to say ‘hi’ to people. Before long you’ll find yourself dancing with others in the street. If you can’t make it, you can contribute by choosing to ‘Donate a Plate’ so that people who have done it tough on the streets this year can at least enjoy a proper Christmas lunch in the company of people who care. Donate a Plate here.

*Name has been changed.

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


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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