Dear Inner Circle,
A couple of stories capture the essence of human connection. Recently, two young children were in the park. One of the kids skipped over and spontaneously asked, “Hey, do you wanna play with me?” The other one considered the proposition for a moment before responding with a nod, and they started playing together. Meanwhile their parents glanced briefly at each other out of social convention and then returned to their screens. Thankfully both were drawn back into reality through the squeals of delight, as their kids dared each other to go higher and higher on the swings.
Over three decades ago, another encounter unfolded at my first youth group meeting. Nervously seeking a partner for a “get to know you” activity, I scanned the room for a sympathetic, or equally pathetic face as mine. During the search I overheard an exchange between two fellow newcomers: “What are you good at?” she asked him. “Pretty much nothing,” he responded. “Oh cool, this is going to be fun”. They’ve now been married for over 30 years!
All too often at pivotal moments, when we find life slipping right through our hands, we attempt to arrest the free-fall by turning inwards, and retreating into our mind, a place from which we seek to “work it out” and “solve things.” This natural impulse is not to be judged, yet the risk lies in staying there, becoming “isolated islands” and not moving back again into the world of relationships. As an ecosystem, being stuck inside your head can feel safe, after a while perhaps predictable, but it is also fertile ground for shame where spirals of dark thoughts can gather pace.
What if instead of locating loneliness as something that lies within us, we located it as something that lies between us? Wouldn’t that make us feel less ashamed and more likely to seek healing through connection with others? The world of connections is where healing and direction reside, despite its inherent vulnerability.
Over the past year, it has been a privilege to get to know one of our volunteers who joined us to honour her son’s life. Recently, she sent us this beautiful message, and with her permission, I’d like to share it with you now:
“I volunteered for a shift last Friday, where I was warmly welcomed to join a large group that called themselves the ‘Table of Wisdom’. Our circle included a beautiful soul who had the most impressive facial tattoos I’ve ever seen… like a rainbow of stars. There was a kind-hearted gentleman battling multiple myeloma, and a beautiful man who shared a song that he sung for his mother’s funeral just three months ago, kindly performing for our circle of wisdom. Another regular told me about how lucrative it is to participate in experimental drug trials when you are unable to earn an income in other ways.
I also befriended an elderly lady who had fascinating stories to share and ate lunch with someone who had recently lost his job. We both spoke about what success really means to us… for me success lies in being a good person, feeling loved and being part of a community.
We all need connection and someone to share a meal with. It was a privilege to be invited to join the ‘Table of Wisdom’ and to share a small part of our stories as part of a community, because there is so much more to all of us than what people see on the outside, even if that is the most colourful of rainbows.”
Whether it’s the innocent play of children or the heartfelt camaraderie of newcomers, life’s richness thrives in genuine connections. It is in these moments of vulnerability and togetherness that we find healing, growth, and a sense of belonging.
Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle,
Rev. Jon OwenCEO & Pastor Wayside Chapel
Listen to the audio recording below: