Dear Inner Circle,

One of the most commonly requested songs to be sung at funerals here is one about love making a way when there seems to be no way. It’s a testament to the power that love has to find a way through when all seems impossible. Small acts, when performed in love, often hold a power that stretches far beyond the act itself. “It’s my birthday today,” came from a young man with a forlorn look who was waiting for Wayside to open. I couldn’t help but think of my niece who had turned six yesterday. When I called her, she told me off for not making it a video call, then immediately transferred it into one, amazing! She then proudly gave me a tour of her presents with her little sister tucked under her arm for safekeeping. When I asked her, “Now that she has had six birthdays, what was the most important thing about birthdays?” She didn’t hesitate, “I know you want me to say family, but it’s actually this toy!” The joy and excitement of the previous moment broke my heart in this present one. I shouldn’t have worried because as I snuck into the building the team was waiting behind the door ready for the young man. One by one they wished him a happy birthday, some pressing presents into his hand, and then they sang to him through their masks. Love was making a way, and it was beautiful to witness his face beaming in recognition of the love that was showering over him. Sometimes it’s the small moments that are the biggest in their importance. Amidst the usual morning hustle and bustle, love was born, perhaps with a dark and troubled face, none-the-less it was born.

Earlier this week, our staff had a small gathering ‘virtually’ to celebrate NAIDOC Week. Unlike other years where we have celebrated with large-scale festivities, this time our frontline staff sat in our community hall, whilst other staff connected online from home to hear the story of one of our team from our Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This gathering was profound, as he masterfully told his story. He invited us into his world which made all who were present feel like we were sitting around a campfire to hear his stories. He talked about the importance of healing country to Aboriginal people, and the many tribes that are the traditional owners of this land. He spoke of the history of his family and his mother had eleven siblings, with every one of them taken as part of The Stolen Generation. His parents had endured segregation and recalled stories of them speaking about having to sit in the front four rows of the cinema, or the back seat of the bus. He talked about the diversity of 250 Aboriginal languages that existed, which had been reduced to just 60 spoken languages across Australia as a result of people being encouraged to speak English only. And then back into our own story of today, he spoke of the hope that he feels from a shift in awareness and recognition of our true Aboriginal history and the support from the younger generation of today.

Great storytellers do that, they help us locate ourselves on a timeline and give us a sense of a future direction that is grounded in the past. The stories we tell ourselves matter, and the best ones help remind us that we all play a part in taking steps towards healing, as there are no spectator seats on this journey. Connection and relationship to land are vital and this year’s NAIDOC theme of “Heal Country” holds deep lessons for all of us as we face a critical time in the survival of our earth.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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