Dear Inner Circle,

I began to write this note with my newsfeed flooding in with commentary on George Pell’s acquittal. I find myself awash with a sea of emotions because every day of my life I spend time with victims of abuse, and I not only read about the long-term cost of such behaviour, but I hear it, see it, and feel it. To some, the lesson of this week is that, “there’s no point coming forward to complain about a past injustice”, and all I can offer is to say, “I’m here, I hear, believe and grieve”.

Easter is meant to be a season of hope. The forty days of preparation that the church calls Lent is meant to be a preparation for change; a preparation to be surprised by a message that love is born through pain, and that love conquers all. Lent is going to take a lot longer in this COVID-19 world, as there is much about our world that needs to heal. I can’t help but feel that although we are all feeling a world of pain right now, that we are also facing a huge opportunity.

Another world is on the way and we would do well in this enforced stillness to listen. Families are spending more time together, couples are being forced to communicate, parks are being used for play, long walks are being taken and cars are being left in driveways. As a result, rivers are cleaning up and nature is thriving. I’ve heard that in some parts of India the Himalayas can be seen for the first time in decades, vegetation is growing, the air is cleaner, and the earth is at rest for the first time in many years. Mother Earth is reclaiming herself. For the first time, we as humans have the opportunity to step back and reevaluate what is truly important in our lives.

There is talk of “when things get back to normal”. I’m hearing about current supports for paid childcare for workers, who are mostly low-paid women in essential service roles; I’m hearing about new funding arrangements that allow our teams to place people who are homeless on the streets into hotels; I’m hearing about generous support packages for people who are out of work and I’m wondering, why settle for normal? Maybe this type of reset is exactly what we need to wake up and realise that a strong society isn’t underpinned by a strong economy, but rather by a compassionate community.

We can do better than normal, and we are ‘doing’ better than normal. I marvel at the way our teams at Wayside Chapel are building a new world every day. Change is happening all around us, we are getting people off the streets and into hotel beds, we are delivering emergency care packs for people on our streets sleeping rough, as well as people’s front doors who are housebound, but still in need of care. Three nights of unbroken sleep in a hotel has even changed one of the grumpiest larrikins, that we see regularly on our streets, into a sweet and gentle giant. He even smiles and tells me to “have a great morning!” which is a huge improvement from when he used to just call me a “great moron”.

There are some hugely positive things that can come out of crisis. If anything, we’ve all realised that we are all in this together.

So I ask that this Easter we think about the possibilities of life after COVID-19. That we can do better and that we should absolutely expect and hold the hope that things can be better. In the words of one of my favourite authors Arundhati Roy, “another world is on its way, on a quiet morning I can hear her breathing.”

Have a safe and happy Easter, and thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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