Dear Inner Circle,
There is once again an air of unpredictability moving through our buildings and we love it! Life is blossoming all around with unplanned spontaneity. Laughter, chess and piano playing are flowing again, and you can feel an energy of renewal filling up thirsty hearts. It is a joy to know that Wayside Chapel is the place where all forms of creativity are embraced and encouraged. Art and play are essential pathways to healing. Whenever I see anyone playing chess I recall two grandmasters no longer with us, Cowboy Steve and Jorge, locked in an epic battle, with the focus on the banter and the wit just as important as the moves being made. It isn’t hard to feel their presence and know they are still with us in spirit. Once Jorge grabbed my arm in the way he loved to, and declared “For someone who doesn’t play chess, you are an OK bloke.”
A few weeks ago, I was walking with a friend when she noticed someone waiting in our “horseshoe” seat outside Wayside with a few suitcases, looking a little hesitant. She approached her and they got to talking. It turned out that the woman needed an Opal card to travel to an appointment but, as she had spent a lifetime giving, she was really uncomfortable about having to ask. In that moment two kindred spirits met and my friend shared a little of her own story then offered, “Ask now when you need it, and when you’re ready, you can give back one day.” For some the road is long, but not all. After that meeting, we found out that she had been supported by our team to find somewhere to stay and was already asking about ways she can now help out around the place. How cool is that? Life can change in an instant, from one spent raising a family for decades evaporating almost overnight. People can soon find themselves going from being somebody’s someone to nobody’s nothing and the shock of it can rapidly lead to a fast fall. I am so glad my mate was there to help catch and connect her with our angels working on the frontline.
Sadly, we received news recently of a tragic boarding house fire that claimed at least three lives in Newtown. Boarding houses are a complex piece of the homelessness puzzle and it’s incredibly difficult to understand the size and scale of the problem that faces us. No-one should have to live in a place where their safety is at risk. An 80-year-old shouldn’t have to jump out of a first-floor window to escape a fire, just as a woman escaping family violence shouldn’t have to work out if she is safer living back with her perpetrator. Unfortunately, for so many, this is the reality of boarding houses. People are often stuck in unstable and untenable living situations with limited access to support. They are the hidden homeless and urgent investment is required in the creation of more public affordable housing. We are doing all we can by being active members of groups that are voicing the need for lasting change. Can you imagine a country where no-one has to sleep rough or in insecure accommodation? We can.
Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,
Rev. Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
PS. Tune in tonight at 7pm to our “Voices from the Streets” Facebook live event to hear the unique perspectives of three of our Wayside visitors. Register here to watch.