Inner Circle


Thursday, 10 September 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

“Is that really you?” It’s a funny question and I was so tempted to claim that I wasn’t really me. “Graham Long?” he asked. “Guilty as charged” I replied. “Well I never thought that I’d actually ever meet you even though I’m your friend on Facebook.” The man offered a handshake and introduced himself as “Eddie, the Big Issue seller from Brisbane”. “Gosh” I said, “Are you the Eddie, the Big Issue seller from Brisbane?” It was a fun way to get our warm discussion going. Eddie has always known about Wayside and he follows closely all our posts on Facebook. He came to Sydney partly just to check us out. I gave him a guided tour of Wayside just now. He just loved seeing Aboriginal people with their own space and busy preparing some food. He was blown away by our rooftop garden. It was lovely to hear him begin to wonder about how he could help transport some of our ideas to Brisbane. It gave me a big kick to see how all our staff members greet Eddie with the same dignity we’d afford the Premier or any other person of importance. I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve met Eddie the Big Issue seller from Brisbane and he’s a lovely bloke.

On Father’s Day I was quite touched by how many people claimed me as their Dad. What an honour! My own daughter sent me a message that said, “Without me, this would just be another day for you! You’re welcome.” Although she wasn’t in church, she suddenly appeared for communion, took the bread, gave me a kiss and said, “Happy Father’s Day” and then walked straight out the door again. I love my girl.

Our 8-year-old granddaughter was going to meet her Guides group at Taronga Zoo on Saturday, which meant she slept over with us and we ran her to the zoo in the morning. I advised her to tell her Guide Leader not to take her group to the Ta-wronger Zoo. “You don’t want to go to the Ta-wronger Zoo, darling. Snakes have feathers and the elephants don’t even have trunks at the Ta-wronger Zoo. You need to get your group to go to the Ta-righter Zoo.” My dear girl got the joke and smiled as a consolation prize for me but the expression on her face said, “Of all the grandfathers in the world, I had to get the ‘special’ one”.

“It ain’t right, Rev”. This was the beginning of a discussion this morning that immediately made me wonder if I’d somehow missed something preceding the beginning of our conversation. I’m well used to this now but it took me years to feel comfortable finding my way into a conversation that had apparently already half started elsewhere. “It should never have happened. Someone should have seen it coming and offered some help.” It takes a while to get from the middle of a conversation back to the beginning, in order to find out who we’re talking about and what it is that might have happened. In this case I was being told of a young woman, known to me, who had recently pulled all her upper teeth out with pliers as an act of self-hate. At this moment, I don’t know if this is a true story, although I’m well used to discovering such acts of anger, directed at the self. I’m well used to seeing skin utterly disfigured by acts of violence to the self. I know people who have only sought medical help when there was a fear of bleeding out. In my view, self-harm is more widely practiced and more often in the young, in recent years. Burning the skin, cutting the skin, pulling out nails, and inflicting deep wounds to the skin, especially to parts of the body normally covered from public view. I will be laughed at for suggesting that the popularity of tattooing is not unrelated to this trend of disrespect for the self. I’m old fashioned I guess, but for me tattooing on the face or near the face is a sign of deep distress. Mind you, the pursuit of the perfect body isn’t a lot different from a body that has been turned into a billboard. The objectification of the body is nothing other than evidence that we’ve forgotten how to do community. The trend is away from meeting persons and toward admiring bodies as things or judging bodies as things. The trend is away from knowing you as no thing and toward making the best use of you as a human resource. We’ve peeled the onion endlessly and discovered nothing in the middle. But the middle isn’t in me or you, but between me and you. To know this is to come to life.

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


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