Inner Circle


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

Yesterday a woman sat in front of me and poured her heart out. It was one of the most difficult and agonising conversations I’ve ever had in my life. It took her a while to tell her story and she was at pains to soberly relate the worst without over or understating the case. Time stood still as together we paused to gaze at the unthinkable. After a long pause and when it seemed like the worst had been said, she said, “So what’s the Graham Long great wisdom in response to this?” “Oh” I said, “Did you get the impression that I aimed to be useful? My aim is to be gloriously useless!” I think it is a mistake to want to “resolve” things. Often to “resolve” something, a massive exercise in forgetting is required. Some of the most unwell people I’ve met have resolved their psychological conflicts quite well but they have done so by shutting down history and shutting down a part of themselves. It’s better to enable the inner conflict so that a way is found for the various parts of the self to all engage in life, without obliterating anyone or anything. What is true for the psyche is true for communities. We don’t need to “resolve” the tensions between Muslim and Christian; atheist and religious; sick and well. We just need to find a way of enabling a conversation between both. A healthy community is not one free of conflict. Stability is a form of death. Homogeneity only ensures that communities will fight over lesser issues rather than important issues. Beware of ‘oneness’; beware of ‘unity’; it’s a trap! All real living is meeting.

A nearby church held a concert to raise funds for Wayside last Sunday. How could I not go? On the program I noticed 17 acts and every act did multiple items. In addition to the printed program, some neighbour had written a novel and they decided he would read a portion of it. A lady who was to play the flute was on the program for six songs. I saw her on the way in and she looked elderly and I’m sure she had emphysema. There was a rock band made up of primary school children. They looked too young to have learned all their riffs but they certainly had all the amplifiers. There was another primary school string ensemble. We had ballerinas, traditional Scottish dances, community choirs and sopranos. There was a Korean fan dance. That didn’t turn out as expected. All in all it was nearly a three-hour session. Soon into the program I caught myself smiling. The longer the program ran, the broader my smile. Communities just don’t make their own entertainment anymore and I knew I was witnessing something of a cultural fossil. The audience really caught me by surprise. There must have been nearly 100 people present and in response to every act, there was an audible, “wow” or “oooo” of appreciation. Every act and every item received applause, warm and sustained applause. I realised in the end that I was laughing at myself. Our mission at Wayside is about “creating community with no ‘us and them’”. I walked into this place resentful and thinking I was too important to spend three hours at such an event. As it turned out, they raised $1,500 and the items were of a surprisingly high standard. Right before my eyes, these people were showing me how to create a community with no us and them. Eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds all made a contribution and all were equally loved for the gift they’d made. Isn’t it funny that as I was humbled by this situation, the more I laughed at myself, surprised by joy and ushered into life.

My deepest thanks for all those who responded to our survey recently. Over 500 people responded and the warmth of your words is stunning. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The open comments were a joy to read. One woman told us that she files every Inner Circle in a folder named ‘Inspiration’ which is at the top of her folders list and just its mere presence reminds her every day that she can be a better person. A few people told us that they’re atheists but still loved being part of Wayside’s community. The comment that made me smile the most was: “I'm a committed, foaming-at-the-mouth atheist so find it difficult to devote to faith-based charities but somehow The Wayside Chapel slips under my radar!” There were literally hundreds of lovely comments. One person said, “The Inner Circle inspires me every week and encourages me to keep “meeting” people rather than trying to “fix” them.” Another said, “Graham’s weekly email reminds me of what it means to be a human being.” And then this, “The Inner Circle reminds me of how insignificant some of the stresses in my life are and how damn lucky I and my family are. Often I am left feeling perplexed by the sheer compassion Graham and his team have been able to express. It challenges my own thinking and makes me very grateful that there are people in our community who are able to feel this way.”

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

Want to receive the Inner Circle directly into your inbox every Thursday? Sign up here.


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

Previous Inner Circles


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



Get Involved