On Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day in a Wayside way, which means quite differently to how you might expect. Some occasions command we dance and party loudly. Yet this is a different moment, one in the calendar year where most expect attitudes of gratitude and warm memories prevail. Yet for many in our community this is a particularly difficult day. To say the least, Mother’s Day at Wayside is, complicated. It’s not a scientific observation but my intuition is that our levels of sadness are elevated that day. So many of our mothers are without their children. So many of our people have lost their mothers and some don’t have much in their history that could produce happy memories. It’s still an important day and at our little church service on Sunday, I invited people to take a sprig of wattle and place it on the communion table. Just about everyone took part in our little ceremony but I was conscious of many muffled tears and even some difficult breathing that was close to sobbing. Speaking to some afterwards, I learned that there was power in the moment for some who understood the gift they’d known of love and relentless labour of their mothers, while others were grateful for their life but had managed to survive, in spite of them. I finished my day filled with gratitude for my own Mum and for the most wonderful Mum in this world, Lisa Owen.

Our mission of creating community with no ‘us and them’ is something that can be seen every day here at Wayside if you have your eyes and heart open. A woman who had never been to Wayside before arrived early to an appointment one day this week and spent 15 minutes in our Community Services Centre, simply watching the various activities and interactions happening. When later asked about our mission, she said she saw it spring to life while she was waiting. She told us how a visitor had been joking around with the volunteers on the front desk when a young woman walked up to the counter. The young woman asked for help because she had been attacked the night before and had to wait for some time before seeing the police. She had nowhere else to go and no one to turn to. The volunteers leapt into action and a staff member was there within seconds, discreetly guiding the young woman into a room to offer guidance and support. The visitor who had been joking around was now quiet and said to the volunteers, “If it wasn’t for Wayside, where would she go?” The woman who saw it unfold and later recounted the story was only there for a tiny window of time but was able to see the Wayside mission in full effect. It’s stories like this that lift me up and remind me that there is so much goodness in our community.

Last night my phone rang, on the other end was someone I hadn’t seen in a very long time. We first met at a time when he was an angry young man, which sadly led him to serve significant amounts of time locked up. He was calling to thank Wayside for believing in him and seeing the good in him even when all the evidence had been to the contrary. He let me know he is now a successful mechanic with a young family of his own. He told me how he now loves restoring abandoned cars and explained, “They’ve got a few scratches but there’s life in them yet”. I like that guiding metaphor for life.  Are we looking for the scratches or for the life that lies beneath? The ability to see the difference can save lives. 

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

JonJon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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