Dear Inner Circle,

Hospitality forms the heart of who we are at Wayside, so we eschew labels that cast us into the roles of “client” and “expert”. Our words create our worlds, so we are careful to treat everyone who walks into Wayside as a “visitor” which makes us “hosts”. This re-orients us towards a commitment to treating our guests with connection and care. Community is intimacy and cannot be cultivated where a distance is present. First impressions matter, so we entrust this precious task to a number of our beautiful volunteers who sit at the ready at the front desk, usually with a fresh towel and new undies, always with warmth. This is a place of reception and acceptance, where the fears of many, who are nervous first timers, are gently are gently dissolved in faces filled with kindness and care. Through these restricted times the smiles occur through masks but the love is the same. Our people work hard to keep the balance between keeping everyone safe and making them feel secure. The warm showers still flow and the freshly made takeaway meals are just as wholesome, even though accessed in different ways to when we could, and will once again in the future, sit together in our hall, feasting, telling jokes, and enjoying conversation.

Our team in the Aboriginal Cultural Centre spent this week busy cooking up Johnny Cakes and Bush Curry to deliver to the community at their front doors, as they know that food truly is the language of love and connection for the soul. Our origins lie in going to where people were and our outreach teams now walk in that legacy. Their work is more important now than ever as we face tighter restrictions and the end of the tunnel seems only a distant hope. At nights they are still hitting the streets and getting in our vans to deliver care and connection to people who are experiencing the loneliness and isolation that is sitting heavy in many of our hearts through this time. I’m so proud of the way our teams continue to be a beacon of hope during these trying times.

The many issues facing society today aren’t just concepts to be grasped and debated; the issues need to be met with on a personal level. I thank you to all who tuned in the hear last week’s “Voices from the Streets” Facebook Live discussion. What a gift it was to sit in a room with such wisdom, in an environment of genuine warmth and friendship. We plan to share more with you and tonight invite you to tune into the Facebook Live “Voices from The Heart” conversation between myself and Rev Graham Long on how we can live in a world where love wins over hate. Register to join tonight’s live event here. Lani’s words from last week’s session will always be with me, “Let’s do all that we can, get vaccinated, because I need my community back!” Her wise words remind us of a deep truth, that community isn’t a luxurious commodity, but is essential for our survival.

Thank you for being an essential part of our community, our precious Inner Circle.

Jon

Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO

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