Inner Circle


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

It's funny how when a new little person comes into your life, you don’t have to redistribute your reservoir of love but rather your heart enlarges and you discover reserves of love you never dreamed about. This week Liz, who has worked with Wayside in a most effective way as our Partnerships Manager, brought in her new baby, Juliette. There is suddenly more to Liz now. There is more to us now too. My heart has also enlarged to include a little boy named Flynn. He’s only four weeks old but he and I were deep in discussion last week. He began to make a little expression of discomfort and so his three-year-old big sister walked up close to me and said in a confidential manner, “He doesn’t like you!”

When I conduct a wedding, I usually try to evaporate briskly and discretely after the ceremony. Often, however, I get caught by people who want to thank me for the ceremony or simply say, “hi”. I think weddings are beautiful, sacred things but can also be quite fun. After an enjoyable ceremony last week I was soon in a huddle with people. An immaculately groomed elderly man shook my hand and said, “I used to be a devout Christian and now I’m agnostic”. I said, “I bet you’re a nicer man as an agnostic than as a devout believer”. It wasn’t what he expected me to say. “Well,” I said, responding to his shocked expression, “real faith has a large dose of ’not knowing’. If ‘devout believer’ means that you were part of a ‘God franchise’ then God, you, me and the world are better served by your agnosticism.” The pursuit of certainty and especially the illusory possession of certainty works against our humanity. In recent days my social media is full of people spitting chips about religion. Lots of people revert to a kind of ‘my little pony’ type philosophy, leaping to the nearest piano to sing, “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try…” But we’re all being damaged not so much by people who ask religious questions but by those who have arrived at certainty. If history teaches us anything, surely it is that those who destroy the world are those who always seem to know what’s best for it. Certain atheists like Stalin, certain Christians like Cromwell, certain Muslims like Bin Laden all brought suffering upon the world.

My online life is almost as busy as my Wayside life. My email and social media can be both exhausting and fruitful. The message below came to me late last night via social media. It tore my heart out and I couldn’t go to sleep until I found a way to respond without judgement.

"I live for getting loaded or taking pills to go to la la land. Spending all my money on dope but I think it’s worth it. I like to live in my own world. F*** regular life. I want to do what I want to do. Being far from reality because I can’t stand society. This is my world, I just wanna hear the music. I think the whole system sucks. So what’s wrong and what’s right?”

I responded with this. “If you're serious, I'd love to discuss this with you. Everyone struggles with the inner and outer life and everyone settles for some combination. It's a human thing. The problem with too much inner life is that it can be just as brutal and unreal as outer life. The other problem is that too much time in the inner life and you wake up one day and you're 60 and everyone you loved (who lives in the outer world) is dead or gone. Love that I've known you since you were a little girl and love your Mum and family. Graham.”

The more you love, the more love there is to go around. Notice, I said “love” not “fix”. The more you fix, the less love there is to go around. I can’t fix anything but love can put me alongside. It’s often enough to get someone moving by their own volition. Walking out of our café yesterday a young woman called out to me, “Father, can you do this thing”. She gestured with her hand on her forehead. “What?” I asked. “Pray,” she said. I placed my hand on her forehead and prayed, “Fear not, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name and you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you…” She pushed her forehead strongly into my hand. When I was finished she turned her face toward me and said, “Can you say that again slowly”. I repeated the words slowly and carefully. Her facial expression looked sad, burdened, surprised and relieved. “Thanks,” she said. The encounter lasted no more than 60 seconds.

The more you love, the more love there is to go around. This week I nursed Juliette and she looked into my face. I believe we met. This week I nursed Flynn. It’s a pity he doesn’t like me.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,



Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


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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