Even the toughest looking men cry, or should that be “especially the toughest men cry”?
An anxious bride makes her way through the crowd gathered in a park. She is slowly being led by her bridesmaid, her sister, flushed with pride as she smiles at her children. They walk past their brother who is also beaming, having managed to secure day release to attend the ceremony, which he promised he wouldn’t miss this for the world. As she finally makes it to her man, he dwarfs her in size, his thick arms covered in tattoos. He is a proud man, who has walked a path few dare to tread. She looks nervously into his eyes and he begins to weep. As his chest heaves he struggles to say the words, “Your love has saved me”. After the ceremony, they scoop up their little girls and walk through the crowd and invite us all back to the local RSL. There isn’t an ounce of pretense present in this moment, and it’s an honour to share. It is a beautiful gift as a minister to get a front-row ticket to conduct the ceremony. I have to pinch myself as I stand in the middle of a group of outlaw motorcycle members and remember that this isn’t the standard place for many ministers, let alone a brown-skinned immigrant kid. But there is no place I would rather be. Spending time with those who think they have it all together holds little joy for me. I always remind myself of the Oscar Wilde saying, “saints have a past, but it’s those who consider themselves sinners who can have a future”.
As I was ushered down the street today I noticed “the Cross” is changing in its’ complexion but there are still echoes of what it was in the past, in some corners. As I sat in a cafe I was seated next to a table of some tired-looking ladies who had been working the streets. Years ago I was told a story about Wayside’s founder who, when he first arrived in the Cross, was propositioned by a lady of the night. He asked her “Do you know that I am minister?” she looked him up and down and quipped “Well I’m not fussy!” As I sipped my morning coffee I overheard a humour that was still just as shrill, but also the most tender expressions of love and care being exchanged between a group of women who deeply cared for each other. As I finished up I bid them farewell, they all smiled and waved and one said, “See ya soon, Father, I’ll be heading up for lunch and shower!” You can’t help but be proud of this place that to this day, at its heart, still lies Wayside Chapel where everyone can find the kind of love that gives and doesn’t take.
As a valued member of our Inner Circle, I’d love to invite you to witness the power of community. On Thursday 20 May from 5:45pm, we invite you to join us online at our live virtual crowdfunding event. You will hear from our inspiring frontline workers about three of Wayside’s innovative and life-changing programs and see human compassion in action right from the comfort of your own home. Click here to register your place.
Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle.
Pastor & CEO