Dear Inner Circle,
Well beyond food and shelter there is a need to be in a place where we not only know and understand others, but also are known and understood in the full truth of who we are. Healthy communities enter a silent covenant with each other, one in which we promise ourselves to each other and share a story and a history. Our mission can only spring to life through these silent commitments that can never be demanded, only issued as an invitation to a life beyond anything we could ever hope to design on our own.
I was invited to sit and share lunch with a man who is facing a set of challenges that would crush many of us. I thought he was going to ask me to do something for him, and I was ready to respond. Instead, he gently placed my hands within his large and bruised hands, looked me in the eye and asked about my family with a depth of intimacy that left me speechless. His care and concern were a reminder of just how unique, precious and fragile we all really are. “All the love that is here, is here for you too, you know that right, Jon?” What a reminder of the disarming power of really being seen well beyond any role or position we play. In that brief, yet timeless moment, we met as brothers.
The humble cup of tea often goes unmentioned when people speak of key moments in their lives. But at Wayside, where over the years thousands of cups of tea have been served with love, the cuppa is a catalyst for change. As Byron, our much-loved visitor and enthusiastic Long Walk Home ambassador, told us, “I came in for a cuppa, and I never left”. After years living on the streets and battling addiction, Byron was isolated and alone when he found Wayside. That first cup of tea in a safe space, filled with love and understanding, was a first step on a different path for Byron. We know someone is on their way to better health and better days when the question of “What can you do for me?” becomes “How can I serve you?” With his focus on healing, and his life moving in the right direction, Byron’s attention has turned to helping others. He eagerly signed up for the Long Walk Home to make sure our doors are always open, and the kettle is always on. I can’t wait to walk alongside Byron next Friday 7th October in the Long Walk Home, and I would love for you to join us too – it’s not too late to register.
Growing up in Melbourne I never understood the game of NRL until, as a part-time chaplain in a juvenile detention centre, I was invited to play a game of “Touch” that I feared would end up more like a game of “Bash the Rev.” Forty minutes later I was covered in sweat and a convert to a game of deft skill and deception. Amidst all the NRL hype, one story stood out this week about a three-time premiership-winning Parramatta fullback, Paul Taylor, who shared how he was homeless and living on $1 hash browns and stolen tea bags after he lost his job, and his marriage broke down. “I look at homeless people now and feel sorry for them because I understand what they’re going through,” he said in the article. “I don’t disrespect them. Sometimes they don’t have any support, they don’t have anything.”
There is good news, there is support, and on Sunday night we will be hosting a grand final party. It is amazing how many people are so excited about the upcoming “Battle of the West” (Parramatta vs Penrith) and are excited that their team is in it. Then it struck me that many would have nowhere to watch it with mates over a hot pie and sauce. Then I remembered, “Oh yeah, we are Wayside”. I asked everyone if they’d do an extra hour, and no one hesitated. You’ve gotta love this place, where everyone is willing to go the extra mile so that no one will miss out on the banter in a safe place where heckling will be welcomed!
Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle.
Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor