Inner Circle


Thursday, 8 October 2015

Dear Inner Circle,


Chatting to a fellow at the front of our Op Shop I suddenly noticed some colourful flowers. I’m not the most observant person in the world, but I was pretty sure that the flowers must have been planted overnight. We don’t have volunteers who tend the garden overnight and this was a mystery. I didn’t mention the flowers but my face must have communicated some confusion. “Do you know Clover Moore?” the man asked. “Sure I do,” I replied. “Well, you should ring her and thank her for the flowers” he said. “Gosh,” I said with an ever increasing sense of mystery, “Why would Clover donate a single little bed of flowers like that?” “Oh,” said the man, “She doesn’t know she made the donation!” It suddenly occurred to me that the City of Sydney has had rather wonderful flower displays erected in the main street. If Clover or anyone from the City of Sydney is reading this, I offer my apology for your “donation”.

A weedy little bloke approached me just a moment ago. “Graham! I haven’t seen you in a year!” I was wondering if we had ever met, when he helped me by saying that I had officiated at his wedding ceremony. Slowly his face seemed approximately familiar, although the woman at his side seemed not to fit with my memory of the bloke. He quickly explained, in front of the woman, that his marriage had lasted only weeks. The necks and shoulders and arms of both people looked like they were covered with what we used to call “hickies” when I was young. Either these two had been involved in some extreme kissing or both of them had fallen into a pit of set rabbit traps. To my astonishment and still without introducing me to the woman at his side, he explained how many women had fallen pregnant to him in the past year. I stopped the conversation in order to introduce myself to the woman and to learn her name. It turns out this relationship was just days old and yet I could see its end looming. I walked away puzzled that the stories I’d just heard were told so easily and so quickly. I walked away puzzled because both of these people are clearly pursuing something with passion and desire so bold, so extreme, that it causes physical injury. I wondered if these people knew each other. I wondered especially if the man knew that attainment of a thing desired and worked for on the one hand, often means loss of its reality on the other. I began to think of this man as an artist who is so keen to produce a work of art that he almost skips the creative process. He is not a creator but a producer. His creation is a thing that can be defined and given a value but it isn’t a revelation; nothing is revealed, just possessed. This quite young man seems mad to possess something and the better he does, the worse he does.

Sheer joy was ours this week when two of our grandchildren stayed overnight. I got out of bed at 2am because of a coughing fit and Miss 8 and Miss 10 came out to greet me and ask if it was time for us to go to the beach. Thankfully they went back to sleep and the second request came at 6am. We spent a large part of the day at the beach after a breakfast of champions. Breakfast with my girls is the traditional toast cut into soldiers with nutella and chopped up marshmallows on top. The girls and I are pretty sure that Mum would approve of such a breakfast. I don’t believe either they or I have checked this with Mum. If there is any sweeter sound than two little girls laughing constantly or screaming at the size of an oncoming wave, or if there is anything more enjoyable than being totally absorbed for hours in the task of finding little creatures in the rocks, I can’t imagine what it might be. Both beauties inherited their musical ability from their Dad but I found I could even enjoy an hour of singing on the way home. Their Dad loved to sing too but mostly he sounded like a ship lost in a fog. At one point on the way home a noise came from one of them like a wail or a scream that caused me to panic a little. “What is that noise?” I asked. “My guitar solo” said Miss 8.

Yesterday a dear old alcoholic man stopped me and asked to chat. We were in full sun and it was hot. “How does confession work?” he asked. “Well,” I said, “If something is worrying you we just talk about it and maybe between us we’ll get a better perspective.” The confession that followed told me that somewhere in the long gone past, this man was exposed to a quite strict religious upbringing. I’ve looked into this face many times and wondered what kind of story lead this man to be so without mercy towards himself. We talked for a while and I explained that I thought he was being hard on himself. As a throwaway line I must have said something like, “After all you are a citizen of heaven.” I’ve never seen this man smile before, but now the biggest, broadest smile exposed both of his teeth to the bright sunlight. “Am I a citizen of heaven?” he asked. “You deserve all the respect due an angel and even more than that”. He shuffled off down the street as if he owned it.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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