Dear Inner Circle,

On Sunday we were a part of something quite special, a brother walked in and confessed he wasn’t doing so well. He was far from his usual joke-cracking, cheeky self. He explained a little of his struggle with his mental health issues and had enough insight to discern that he wasn’t far off from needing a spell of hospitalisation. He wanted to know his community loved him and were with him. We don’t possess any magic, in fact, we offer quite the opposite, we offer love and a relationship. We gathered around him and all who could, placed their hands on him as Graham prayed. What an honour to have such a brother and what joy to share in such a moment of love. I saw him at Wayside this morning and he looks quite different from the man we met on Sunday. He told me that on Sunday night he ate a proper meal for the first time in ages and then slept well. It was such a tonic to look into this happy face today.

Prior to joining the Wayside Chapel, Lisa and I had loved and been deeply involved in two communities. Neighbourhoods are vibrant places of life that can capture the heart. We have learnt that while the body can move into a neighbourhood in a matter of days, the heart arrives at a much slower pace. It often prefers to tarry in more familiar spaces and refuses to be rushed. When the heart arrives in a new place, there is such a sense of ‘gift’. Being aware of this, I took care that on my very first day here I walked slowly. Streets, faces and alleyways that were new and unfamiliar were absorbed in the knowledge and hope that one day they would become a part of my heart. I revelled a little in the anonymity. A year into the job and it now takes a pleasantly long time to walk anywhere as I’m always stopped by familiar faces, and I love it. Yesterday as I walked the streets, someone a long way off started jumping up and down screaming “HEY!” until they had my attention. He then continued the conversation from fifty metres away, acting out an exaggerated gesture, looking like he was playing air violin. “Guess what Johnny? Only three shots of heroin in three weeks mate, I’m on my way!” We have watched slowly as this beautiful and hauntingly talented young man balances between life and death. I am not sure what the crowd of people in the space between us heard or felt, but all that was flowing between us was love and it had arrived as a gift. We have slowly witnessed this guy move from the loneliest place imaginable; a world of one; now slowly back into the world of community. I have watched proudly as he has been loved and cared for by our staff and the nurture invested has begun its work. His feet are moving; he’s on his way.

This week is National Homelessness Week, and I’m reminded as I turn on the radio, that there people are out there who are striving to make a real difference in this space. Having worked in some of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods as a social worker, I know that real change starts with a conversation and when everyone starts making the issue of poverty personal. For this reason, Wayside Chapel is extending you the opportunity to be part of the conversation about how we can address issues of inequality together at our inaugural Side By Side Conversations event at Wayside Chapel on 20 August. We will be lucky enough to be joined by some very special guest speakers including social entrepreneur Magatte Wade and acclaimed journalist and presenter Emma Alberici, as well as have a chance to meet and mingle with food and drinks provided by Heart Cafe on our rooftop terrace. Bookings are essential as we only have very limited seats, so book now to secure your spot. Buy your tickets here. 

I’d love to have the chance to meet you, our heart, our Inner Circle.


Jon Owen
Wayside Chapel

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