Inner Circle


Thursday, 10 March 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

A seething ball of anger sat with me yesterday. Often if you listen long enough, some of the steam dissipates and it becomes possible to look at things from more than one angle. Not this time. The longer we spent together, the more the pressure built. If I could have given a month to this bloke, he’d have gladly told me how the world dished to him injustice from the moment of his birth. He spent all of his time telling me how alone he was and how bad people never seem to face justice. The man had no sense that I was with him. The conversation presupposed that I would not understand and if given long enough, I too would become one of the many who would dish out injustice and never have to face consequences for my behaviour. We didn’t meet. I witnessed a monumental mistake from close range. Somewhere the man had decided he was on his own. He couldn’t begin to see that his act denied the intimacy of everything! I tried to tell him that I was patiently waiting to meet him but that he’d have to step out of his solitary cell (‘the self’) and come to meet me. It is not just I who wait, but the whole universe. The magnolia tree at the front of our building is waiting patiently for him. The sky, the ocean, the wind and perhaps many people in this world, are patiently waiting. I wondered if he had ever stared in wonder at the stars or the vastness of an ocean or the beauty of a child, long enough for the universe to compete with, or perhaps temporarily crowd out, his solo commentary. To feel abandoned may be the worst of all crimes because it constructs a ‘self’ that doesn’t exist. How can we do battle with a ghost?

Another meeting on the same day had a better outcome. The cranky man had plenty of money and assets. He had a family although he saw them as aligned with everyone else in the world except himself. The second fellow owned nothing and had no money. He’d wasted an inheritance on indulgence on a grand scale. It’s hard to believe how much money can be wasted in a relatively short time. He ran away from his family in order to indulge himself without any restraint. In a far away place, he thought he was alone and that there was no witness to his mighty and trivial transgressions. What a mistake! What a waste! In his place of escape, he also constructed a ‘self’ that didn’t exist. This self-entitled ghost was only challenged when the money ran out, along with the kind friends that run out when the money is gone. The journey of self-indulgence began with a tragic mistake. He believed he was alone and he constructed a ‘self’ that might as well take whatever comforts were available. The more he took, the emptier he got. He spoke to me about heading back to his country of origin and his family as if it was the last throw of the dice. My guess is that someone at home is probably waiting patiently. If he actually gets home, he’ll return a better man than he was before he ever left. Now that he sees the emptiness of the entitled ‘self’ he constructed, he may find love. If he can step toward those who love him, he may find what was always present. There is more hope for this bloke than for the fellow who had committed no such indulgences but seethed with anger toward anyone who wasn’t up to his standard, which turned out to be everyone.

Last week I travelled to Melbourne to speak at a superannuation awards night sponsored by good friends of Wayside, Conexus Financial. I arrived early and the host told me to, “Go and dress up and meet him back in 40 minutes”. Oh, dress up! I didn’t bring a change of clothes. I used my 40 minutes to wander around Crown Casino. I’ve never felt like such an alien in this world! As I walked in there was a most wonderful Mercedes car on display with signs all over it, telling the punters that it could be won. As I walked in, a man walking out of the casino, punched the Mercedes with all his might. I guess he didn’t have a good day. No one laughs at a casino. What a serious place. I saw a young man hand over $2,000 in $50 notes. The attendant counted the money on the table and issued a bunch of chips. The man placed all of his chips in various locations around the table and within a minute the little marble was spinning around the wheel. Sixty seconds later the marble stopped (as did my heart) and all the chips were collected by the attendant and pushed down a chute. That was $2,000 in a couple of minutes! With no facial expression the man just walked away and I think, onto another table. Wayside needs one of those wheels and a marble! I’d spin a marble on a wheel and instead of collecting all the chips, I’d shake the punter by the hand and say, “You just fed, showered and clothed 500 people”. What a night of contrasts. The casino was a humourless place but the Conexus Conference was a happy gathering. We passed the hat around and I went home with $25,000 given to Wayside. The crowd on the ground floor sucked life out of me yet the crowd on the first floor at the conference gave me life and hope with the result that many needy people will be fed, showered and dressed. My deepest thanks to everyone at that conference.

Did you see the amazing Wayside float in Mardi Gras last Saturday? I’ve seen our Wayside love heart in many different forms but I never thought I’d see it flying down Oxford Street with its wings flapping! Over 40 people marched and danced in the Wayside float in the ultimate display of love for our LGBTQI community. A huge thank you to Margaret Butler from for being the sponsor of this year’s float and thank you to all the volunteers, visitors and staff who gave their time and energy to make sure our parade entry was a success. You can see a selection of photos from the night on our Facebook page here.

Have I told you that I have the most beautiful grandchildren in the world? The most beautiful 9-year-old on earth has a habit of finishing her sentences with the word, “fact”, particularly when she’s trying to help me understand things about which I seem to be struggling.

I’m so thankful that you are part of this inner circle. Fact!


PS. Post Mardi Gras we’re looking for somewhere to store our heart and wings. Do you have extra space in a garage or storage unit you could lend to Wayside? We’d need about the space of a small car. If so, we’d love to hear from you.

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


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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