Dear Inner Circle,
Sitting in the Heart Cafe, our social enterprise in Bondi Beach, is a rich experience. It is so cool watching the staff operating seamlessly in a hive of Bondi activity. In true Wayside style, you can’t tell “who’s who in the zoo” and that’s exactly how we like it. The young adults working there who are part of our Wingspan Project are not just taking their first steps into the workforce, they are leaping into it head first, and spreading their wings to reach their full potential. I observed this as I sat and sipped my coffee in the quietest corner I could find with a mate who was in a tough spot. He had the wisdom to know that the only way out of the fog is to move through it, and talking about his challenges reminded him to pay attention to the hints of love that really do enfold anyone who looks for it. As if on cue, as we were chatting, a boisterous group of young women fresh out of the water walked past us, one looked at us, stopped, turned and ran back around the corner. She soon reappeared and skipped up to us as she thrust a bag into my hands, “This is for Wayside, you don’t know me, but my mum and I have been sewing these beanies all weekend for the cold, wet nights!” Whilst Bondi Beach can often seem to be centred on the transactional rather than the relational self, her gesture proved that this impression is sometimes only skin deep.
There is something, dare I say it, holy about spaces. I’m not referring to spaces as specific places, but rather the need to pause. Any message of worth is a form of call and response. In the written form it’s actually the spaces in between, more so than the words themselves, that help us make sense of the message. Then it’s the space we give ourselves that invite a response. Our culture and our news cycle remove all space through noise and volume. If we cede the space we heed the call, but lose the capacity to live a generative answer. So our hearts fill with sorrow, our chests with anxiety and our heads with frustration. We have to “stop” well, in order to “go” well, otherwise any action will be driven by the surface question of “What can I do to rid myself of this feeling?” Rather than being led by the depth of questions “What am I being called to do?” and “Who am I being called to become?” There is a world of difference between the two energies, and it takes wisdom to discern the difference. I encourage all as we live through the wars and floods to pause through, rather than voraciously consume the images we receive.
A young woman who was raised in what she describes to me as a family from a background of “wealth and privilege”, was sent by her family to the chapel to ask about a funeral for her eccentric grandfather. She arrived just before we opened our doors and fell into a chat with some women waiting for a shower to start the day. “Do they have services here?” She nervously enquired, “Of course they do love! What do you need? Undies? A shower? Help with housing? Whatever you need they’ve got it here, you’re in the right place, Darlin’.” She later told me how she was initially offended but then confronted with her response because the love that was being extended to her was from the type of person that her whole life she’d been told to avoid. Her heart broke open then to a deeper compassion when she suddenly realised that she too was a fellow companion with these women, waiting by the Wayside for an open door.
Thanks for being open, our precious Inner Circle,
Rev. Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
PS. Our Facebook Live series ‘Voices from the Streets’ is returning for 2022 next Thursday, 24 March at 7pm. Join me for a live discussion with three Wayside visitors to talk about their experiences and stories ‘from the streets’. Definitely worth a watch if you’ve always wanted to hear first-hand from our visitors and challenge your perceptions. RSVP for the Facebook Event here or tune into our Wayside Chapel Facebook page next Thursday 24 March at 7 pm.