Chilli Sauce and Howling Cats

Dear Inner Circle,

What will we do when every trace of trust has evaporated? We’re constantly told that all news is “fake news”, slowly eroding our faith in media, much like a dripping tap. My hunch is that the culture has largely lost interest in the news entirely. Sometimes, it feels less like a dripping tap and more like a firehose, as various royal commissions have exposed institutions once trusted to be unworthy of trust. Some of us carry elevated anxiety because what was once certain is now suspect. Others prefer to cling to minutiae, allowing it to loom large and keep us busy, while larger questions are ruled out and left unconsidered. Either way, we find ourselves less equipped to identify fraud, becoming vulnerable to the loudest voice, as if volume and authority were somehow related. In some matters, our feelings guide us. Does Taylor Swift make a sweeter sound than a howling cat? Yet, our feelings are like a jumpy bird, flitting in different directions all the time. Some days, we might prefer to hear the howling cat.  

We are in a dangerous moment. The dripping tap has worn us down to the point where we seek to preserve a sense of well-being as though it were the same as being well. If someone dares aspire to truth, we are likely to feel “unsafe”, “threatened” or “offended”. We’re in a comfortable car, enjoying all its features while cruising at 100 km/h. Yet, there’s a 25 km/h corner just ahead, and we believe the signs are “fake news”. Woe betide anyone who seeks to make us uncomfortable, for we are driving towards a hairpin turn from which we cannot emerge of our own volition.  

Bearing witness to the power of love to change lives is one way we detect, rather than invent, our mission in life. To see someone slowly emerge from a deep and dark place is a stunning sight. Behind it all is our beautiful team, who meticulously scheme ways to deliver micro-doses of love, which are often the only tolerable levels in the early stages of a relationship. Some brief eye contact here, a small smile and nod there, with no expectation but always hope of a tiny return, are mapped out and celebrated. There is delight in watching it happen, the slow and courageous move from self-hatred towards trust in others. It is totally understandable that this work often takes time, as the move outwards is such a leap of faith, and one that for many has often led to a terrible fall. Today, all it took to infuse life and light into a bleak week was the first laugh and smile from someone I have been trying to connect with for weeks. She was amused by how much chilli sauce I was putting on my meal, and her smile and banter made all the difference.  

“You did all the hard work darl, all we did was love you,” was a sentence that two angels I am lucky enough to have in my life lavished on the exceptional young man we were visiting. Even though he was running around, fussing over his family, attending lovingly to everyone, this praise stopped him. He turned around and lovingly retorted, “Yeah, but you loved me when I couldn’t love myself – and that kept me alive”. Never doubt that a small group of people, all highly committed to loving others, can change lives; indeed, it’s the only thing I’ve seen that ever has.  

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle, 


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel


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