Dear Inner Circle,

This is a year we have had to find new and creative ways to mark significant events that shape our national life. A few weeks ago we gathered in our driveways with candles to remember all who have lost their lives in wars. We remember the fallen and those who came home, but were never the same. We honour their legacy. Just over 20 years ago Lisa and I lived in an area with a lot of military housing and we saw the long-term impacts that war can have. Not just for those who return, but for their families, the effects of which last well into future generations. Some estimates have indicated that as many as 5% of returned servicemen are at risk of homelessness. Our people who work on our front line at Wayside regularly meet those who served on that other front line, and we do so with deep respect and honour, and work with them to ensure they are safe, supported, and not forgotten.

Today marks the day 20 years ago that many of us walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for reconciliation, when the air was filled with hope and optimism around Sydney. Perhaps we were at our best then, with the Olympics approaching there was a sense that, having survived Y2K nothing could stop us. I can taste something similar in the air right now.

This week is National Reconciliation Week and usually at Wayside we are abuzz with activity on National Sorry Day, when we stop and gather to remember the history of the Stolen Generations. Acknowledged, or unacknowledged, this history deeply shapes our national identity in ways that still impact us all on a daily basis. Our teams marked this moment together connected via the internet, to listen to stories. Sorry has many faces, one of which finds form as an expression of sorrow. As we listened, we heard a member of our team share one of her earliest memories. It was after the death of her young brother, and of how she and her parents had to travel into the city to plead their case to a government official at Parliament House for an exemption to have him buried in their local cemetery. This was at a time when an Aboriginal person could not be buried in that cemetery, as it was only for white people. As this story was recounted, our people at Wayside in our community hall, as well as those connected via Skype at home, all shared in a deep collective moment of sadness for her, as well as our Aboriginal community.

Some living memories should haunt us, and fill us with resolve to be better. What amazes me was that, in spite of this, her heart contains no hatred. She has a strong but gentle spirit that I see come to life as she serves members of her community. We finished by viewing a piece of her art that she shared with us. It depicts her vision of reconciliation, where we gather together in respectful relationships between people from all backgrounds, listening to our stories and not being afraid to speak the truth about them. Now that’s a vision of healing that we can all get behind.

Speaking of healing, I had my gallbladder removed last week and have been working from home for a few days. For all of you who are into week 9 of self-isolation at home, I send you my deepest admiration!

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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