But First, Connection

Dear Inner Circle,

My local barista is a bit of a legend. Everyone who wanders into his little hole-in-the-wall is greeted with an enthusiastic smile and a warm greeting. I once asked him about his approach, and his response floored me.

“People who come in here are a little bit busy and already, even at 5.30 in the morning, are stressed about what their day holds. I am often their first interaction, so I try and make it a positive one. This creates in them the possibility, that despite their fears, today just may be a good day after all. That first moment of connection sets up their day, and I get the chance to be a part of that, it’s really a privilege.”

This barista, who was born in a refugee camp before making his way to Australia, leant in to share some precious wisdom with me, “For some people I might be their only face-to-face interaction for the whole day. They come here looking for connection, and I give it to them, and I make sure it’s a good one.” Every single day, he shares the Wayside Chapel philosophy that no one is a problem to be solved, or a coffee to be made, but a person to be met, with love and kindness. We should all channel him, making the world a better place, one coffee and smile at a time.

It’s always the small moments that usually go unnoticed, that often hold the greatest impact. It is seen day to day at Wayside in the painting of nails, or the cutting of hair just the way someone likes it. One of our incredible frontline workers described how she met with a woman whose whole body was shaking with terror and by bringing her into our beautifully furnished and peaceful new women’s space, she witnessed the woman’s shoulders drop and then visibly relax so she could slowly begin to tell her story. A moment of shared silence, amidst beauty, plays a powerful and often overlooked role in the healing process.

I later sat with a young man, who was also shaking as he spoke about his sister, who was so full of life and hope and yet had been murdered by her partner. “She’ll always be 23 in my mind. She will never grow old, as I grow old. I can never forget her, and I will do all I can to make sure her death isn’t in vain.” His bravery is something to behold. I held his hand and we sat quietly together for a moment.

On Anzac Day, many of us engaged in a collective act of remembering, solemnly reflecting on the horror of war. We took a moment to commemorate the soldiers who have died in combat, and to remember the human fallout on the families of veterans. We do this so that their courage should not be forgotten, to make sure that their deaths are not in vain. This should extend to all victims of violence, and it is an honour to be a part of community that strives to make that world a reality.

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle,


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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