Any time of year, you can find it here

Dear Inner Circle,

Welcome back friends, for another year of stories from the Wayside. It’s good to be back in a space that makes room to embrace the highs, lows and everything in between — a place where life is found in the most unexpected corners.

I received an expansive bear hug from behind upon my return after a week off. The affection came unexpectedly from someone who hadn’t been seen since before the COVID-19 lockdowns. He rekindled conversations as if no time had passed, and it was beautiful hearing the laughter of a familiar friend. Initially, I thought he was just passing through on summer holidays, but a surprise call later revealed that underneath his smile was a deeper sadness. Over the past few years and especially through the lockdowns he had hidden in his corporate career, creating a distance from his family, who have now left him. He shared that returning to Wayside felt like coming home. “I’m successful, yet I have nowhere to live right now. I’ve realised that my success was grounded in a world valuing whoever could tell the biggest lies. Coming back here is a return to authenticity, a place where my bulls*t is embraced, and I can speak truthfully. I reckon I might just be able to find my way back now.” His words may have unwittingly set our theme for the year.

Recognition, it can be claimed, is the first human quest. Observe how babies, bursting into life, desperately scan the room for eye contact, for a face that sees them. This act not only affirms their existence but also reinforces a relationship. The power of acknowledgment shapes who we are, whose we are, and, perhaps more importantly, who we can become. In a world often resistant to our hunger for recognition and reluctant to even make eye contact, there is a yearning for this connection.

I am not so much a believer in new year resolutions as in reclaiming precious relationships and taking time to really get to know everyone who comes to Wayside on that search for connection. This was sparked by the loss of a quiet soul who rarely spoke and is now gone, a terrible reminder of how extreme heat and humidity pose greater dangers to vulnerable bodies than winter does. Running the aircon is a gift of respite from the punishing conditions people living on our streets experience. There is a little mantra that I am going to place over my desk, for those moments when I am too engulfed in busyness to take a deep breath. It helps me to take a step back and evaluate amid the mania: “Come spend some time with me before I am gone.” 

This month, we’ve been celebrating the reopening of our After Hours Hub in Kings Cross, a vital and unique nighttime space in our city where many come as much for the love and company that holds them together, as they do for the support we provide when life has fallen apart. We’re also marvelling at the ways our team in Bondi Beach are making the centre there feel like a home away from not having a home, with daily community lunches and vibrant social activities.

It’s wonderful to have you back, I hope you enjoy your stay! Here’s to another year of love and loss, a great reminder of what our hearts are for.

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle,


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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