Dear Inner Circle,

Our mission of “creating community with no ‘us and them’” is proving to be the jewel in the crown that we always knew it was, in a world that is being driven apart by economic and racial inequality. Before we had to change our way of working through the restrictions, one of the most beautiful expressions of our mission in action, was the way our volunteers would come in day after day to love and care for everyone who walked, stumbled or fell through our doors. That’s why we miss our amazing volunteers so much and never underestimate their value and contribution. I cannot wait for the day we send out the call for them to return again, and from what I’m hearing many of them have also greatly missed the connection to their beloved Wayside community. That will be the day we throw a Wayside party!

Thank you, our Inner Circle, for helping us to keep doing what we do through the past few months. Did you know that this week alone, we have seen 70 new faces come through our doors? With the easing of restrictions, also come reductions in many of the generous safety nets that have been put in place to help keep people safe and well during this time. I fear this is the beginning of something big, but I am also filled with gratitude for our teams and all of you who have supported us to remain open and to be here for our people who need us most.

I once read something by Dr Brené Brown, a professor from the University of Houston USA, who makes the claim that as far as the brain is concerned, physical pain and the pain of social rejection hurt equally. If you have ever experienced the latter, you know the truth of this. A few weeks ago, some of our team from the “Mob Space” (our term for our Wayside Aboriginal Team), gathered to help a man who was lost after the death of his partner. He felt he couldn’t leave the accommodation they shared, even though he could no longer afford it, because he still felt his partner’s presence in the room. Our staff and other Aboriginal people stood with this man, loving him and being with him. He allowed them to organise a smoking ceremony in the room which powerfully released him and allowed him to make his next step. The pain he felt for the loss of his partner, had also been compounded by the pain of isolation and rejection he’d felt for years. It’s staggering to see how people can move toward health and healing under their own steam once they have healthy connections, and know that others are ‘with them’ and ‘for them’.

On a lighter note, Since COVID, there are some funny sayings that have emerged around here. “See you later, stay well” seems to have developed into, “Don’t lick any door handles”. Only at Wayside!

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle, and don’t lick any door handles,

Jon

PS. If you watched Filthy Rich and Homeless last night on SBS TV, you would have seen it featured our visitors Eden and Josh, who were incredibly brave for sharing their stories. I wanted to thank them both for moving us all. We are so proud that they are part of our Wayside community.  If you missed it, you can watch it on SBS on Demand. Or you can watch the final episode of the show at 8:30pm tonight on SBS TV.

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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