Dangerously Nostalgic

Dear Inner Circle,

Life certainly moves inexorably forward. From the early days of chasing toddlers, with long days but short years, Lisa and I have now crossed the threshold to a place where our adult children are caught up in their own busy lives. This year our first born turned 20 and was interstate on their birthday. When they were little, on the night before their birthday, we used to fill the house with as many balloons as we could blow up and watch as they looked in wide-eyed amazement at the living room, full of colour and movement. Now we managed to coordinate a FaceTime call while the gifts Lisa had snuck into their suitcase came out. It all threatens to make us dangerously nostalgic (remembering that nostalgia was first rightly diagnosed as a disease) and to be tempted to think that our best years lie behind us.

Indeed, it seems like only a few short years ago, when I was summoned loudly by Lisa, and upon entering our bedroom found her in sudden and unexpected labour with baby number two. We were both a little in shock, and as she struggled to get into a birth position, I responded in the strangest of ways, recalling some bad advice I had received from days as an army cadet. “Take charge,” a little voice whispered in my ear, and immediately I responded out loud, pointing firmly at Lisa, “Stop! We can work this out!” The look she gave me still haunts me. I abandoned that course of action immediately and got to participate in a most precious and intimate birth by accident.

It reminded me of the words of my favourite author, Arundhati Roy, “Another world… is on her way… On a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.” This new world is emerging and is in absolutely no way seeking our permission, nor waiting for our intellectual assent, nor cognition of it. Yet it is forever inviting our participation in helping it be miraculously born in the most unplanned and ultimately surprising of ways. Our salvation from nostalgia truly lies not in the head, but in our hands and feet, in our response-ability to life as it beckons to us. This response to the invite comes every day as we open the doors at Wayside, but it also comes for all of us in varied ways – from old friends who reach out for help or during fleeting moments of connection with strangers. We all have a part to play, and I hesitate to call us all midwives, but I hope you get what I mean.

Last year our very miracle, now 18, asked to celebrate Christmas at a boyfriend’s house, which was met swift and firm “No, and it isn’t about you, it’s about us. Your mother and I simply aren’t ready for that!”

Well, we mostly move forward, don’t we!

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle,


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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