Dear Inner Circle,

Once upon a time my two-year-old toddled up to me and in one fell swoop, she picked her nose and wiped it on my face, “I picked you dada, I picked you!” she squealed as I squirmed and gave her a snuggle and she burrowed her head into my shoulder to clean up the rest of her nose. This could have been an unpleasant moment and I guess it was, but it was also a memory I cherish. I was “picked” in more ways than one.

There is power in being chosen, and in being “picked”. I shared a meal with a mate today. Recent restrictions meant that we hadn’t seen each other for some time, so it was lovely to sit down together inside a local Thai restaurant to catch up. As we sat some of our street angels (Wayside outreach workers), crossed over the road towards us. My friend peered at them as they came into view and he whispered, “Thank them for me Jon, I know it is their job, but the fact that they choose to visit me makes me feel like I’m worth something”. He explained that in recent times our ‘angels’ had continued to check in with him at his home when he was in isolation. These words held a precious power in them, as he explained that he’d never been ‘picked’ by anyone for any reason before.

Many people hover around Wayside for some time finding it difficult in some ways to believe that they are worthy of care. People take a lot of time to build up the courage to ask for care not believing for a second it is available to them at all. They sometimes go to extremes to seek it, then double up in disbelief when it is actually offered. Without knowing all the stories, its pretty safe to assume that in many prior scenarios, care was not offered when it was most needed. Some become hard and some become haunted, knowing that there is nothing that you can put into the body that will satisfy and fill up the underlying ache. Many wander away in disbelief and some, a few, sometimes are illuminated to find they are ‘picked’; that we are ‘with’ them and ‘for’ them. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes as messy as the story of the little kid I told you about, but unmistakable when you see it. A ‘thank you’ truly expressed can be a sign of a life on the move. When “What can you give me?” begins to become “How can I help?”, we recognise that something awesome is on its way.

How desperately our world needs a message of inclusion just now. My heart aches to see America burning. I long for justice and for healing in that country, just as I long for courage and patience in this country to move away from the familiar and wilful blindness, to an attitude of inclusion of sober historical awareness and to embrace our differences. Only once we recognise our differences as strengths, will we be able to truly move towards a community of no ‘us and them’. Until then I am going to continue to listen, learn, and act in ways that continue to open my eyes clearly.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle.

Jon

PS. Next Tuesday to Thursday 9 – 11 June, Wayside Chapel and two of our visitors will be featured on SBS TV’s new series of Filthy Rich and Homeless on SBS Australia and SBS On Demand. We hope you can tune to watch this series that helps shine a light on the issue of homelessness in Australia.

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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