Inner Circle


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Dear Inner Circle,

A huddle of three men in our café invited me to join their table while they solved all the world’s problems in thirty minutes. Each of these fellows were either sleeping rough or in a less than ideal boarding house. Each had more than their fair share of issues coming from difficult histories. I stepped into a discussion about the American presidential race. We were four old wise men who really knew that our opinion counted for nothing but who never-the-less were genuinely concerned. Two of the three were surprisingly well informed. All three thought that Donald Trump was a buffoon and yet all three were convinced that he will be elected to the high office. One fellow could articulate a sense of “ordinary people don’t trust government any more”. I think it is the heart of the issue.

In 1247 an English noble established a priory (a place of prayer) and called it Saint Mary’s of Bethlehem. The idea was that someone would be praying for the nobleman while he was off fighting battles. Over a couple of hundred years, the priory became a place that cared for the mentally ill. In all of London there were never more than about 20 people who were mentally ill to the extent of needing residential care. When Henry VIII declared himself to be the head of the church and abolished all the monasteries around England, a deep cultural shake took place. It was said in those days that a peasant could walk a day in any direction and find a monastery that would give them shelter and minister to them some soup (hence ‘minestrone soup’). Within just a few years, all the monasteries were gone, sold to the English rich and making Henry the wealthiest monarch in Europe. Saint Mary’s of Bethlehem started to burst at the seams as hundreds of people could no longer cope in a world where the foundations had eroded. Saint Mary’s of Bethlehem became, “Bethlehem”, which became “Bethlem”, which finally became “Bedlam”, which is where this word entered into the English language. When rulers and governments are perceived to be throwing away their own rule book, there is always a high price to be paid in the culture. Citizens of the US have seen their government throw away their own rule book in so many ways and we’re witnessing the beginnings of the high price manifested in a culture that has lost faith in its leaders and system of government. The USA has a mighty problem no matter who they elect in November. Australia ought to rethink its treatment of asylum seekers on this ground before we too start looking for a buffoon who promises the impossible and lest we usher in our own version of bedlam.

In a cab yesterday my driver took a wrong turn. “I’m sorry Sir,” he said and then, “I lose my concentration when I’m anxious.” “Sounds like you’re going through a rough patch”, I said. He told me that he had a twenty-year-old daughter who is diagnosed as bipolar and although she is a wonderful girl, she goes through periods where she is dreadfully unwell. We got to Wayside and the meter stopped but we kept talking for about 15 minutes. A lovely Dad broke his heart as he told me how his daughter was dux of her school and had achieved so much but how she had become so unwell that she is sometimes incapable of leaving the house. “I love to talk with my girl. I love the way she thinks. She is part of me and I can’t help feeling that I am her father and I should find a way to help her and protect her”. As I got out of the car he said, “When my girl is well, I can conquer the world”.

Thanks to our ABC and the 4 Corners program for exposing the mistreatment of children by the authorities in the Northern Territory. While this was an outrageous revelation to Australia, it was no surprise to our Aboriginal community here at Wayside. Let’s hope this Royal Commission will provide the opportunity to do right where wrong has prevailed. Let’s hope the deep racism is exposed and we find a way to change direction permanently. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has delivered us into unbearable pain, yet we must be thankful to Julia Gillard for visiting this pain that will never leave us. It is such pain that will change our behaviour forever. I wish for unbearable pain to be visited upon the Northern Territory so that the systemic racism will end and children in the Northern Territory will be treated with the love and care that they deserve. Let’s hope politicians find no power in worn out tactics of feeding the pubic with fear. Let’s hope the public in the Northern Territory reject every law and order speech from politicians until they are satisfied that children in State-care are treated with the love and respect that they deserve. Now, let’s get 4 Corners onto Manus Island.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long AM

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


21 July: Time for some straight talking

14 July: Holy ground

7 July: Sowing in tears, reaping with shouts of joy

30 June: A bit of banter about Bondi

23 June: My cup runneth over

16 June: Injecting some joy

9 June: At the end of the line

2 June: Lots of perspiration and a touch of inspiration

26 May: Swimming against the tide

19 May: Every 7 days but not weakly

12 May: I once was blind

5 May: A place to belong

28 April: Lest we forget

21 April: I've seen into the abyss

14 April: Colourful language

7 April: Poetic licence

31 March: Happy in the Cross

24 March: Easter

17 March: A party mix

10 March: The intimacy of everything

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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