Being Response-able

Dear Inner Circle, 

If the smallest human unit is two rather than one, then perhaps one of the reasons western society renders us as lonely is the way it shoehorns us to attempt answering one of the pivotal questions of human existence, “Who am I?”, as a free floating objective, rather than as a relational being. There’s a lucrative self-discovery industry established around helping attempt an answer. At Wayside Chapel we believe that humanity begins with two, so we need each other to be human because we constitute each other. A lot of answers to life’s deepest questions can be found for the price of a cup of tea.  

Hidden in the debris of life’s shattered ideals, there is an invitation to reside in the real. I no longer fool myself that I am or should be an ideal partner, parent or pastor but cling to faith that I am a real one. This frees me from reacting to what life throws at us with a “How could this happen?” to be far more response-able and ask “Who am I being called to be in light of this?”

Earlier this morning my eyes met a friend who, after a few years of hard work and clean living, was assaulted out of the blue, sadly an all-too-common story for many who live on and around the streets. We sat together in silence and no big promises were made. Even though I am convinced that Superman must be Indian (where else can you run faster than a train?) I resisted the impulse to perform any kind of rescue. Our humanity lies in our ability to resist this initial urge, as it ultimately sends one off on a quest from which we would most likely require rescue, and one in which disconnection is assured.  All my friend needed at that moment was all I could be, a safe person with a gentle hug as she wept.  

With a hint of warmth returning to the air and a short break in the rain, we bravely wheeled a new pizza oven out to the front of Wayside one evening last week and served freshly made pizza to our community. One of the most heart-breaking things we had to do during lockdown was close our community café and move to a takeaway model of food service. For months on end, people lined up, got a takeaway meal and moved on. For many, that moment of connection when the takeaway meal was handed to them was the only human contact they had all day. Last week it was a joy to see people milling around, enjoying their pizza and a game of bocce on a little patch of fake grass. Now the only queue is the virtual one to tell a joke, but no one ever waits for long in that one! 

Thanks for being part of our human unit,  

Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel 

We are always interested in hearing the valuable perspectives from our Inner Circle. We are conducting some research to better understand the challenges and social issues facing our community, with a focus on loneliness, and the insights our supporters have about Wayside. If you would like to share your thoughts anonymously, please complete the short confidential survey here.

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