Dear Inner Circle,
The week began with loud cheers as the chapel buzzed with excitement, cheering our Matildas to victory, amidst a sea of green and gold streamers. How wonderful it is to see stadiums packed with children screaming for a new kind of hero. Intriguingly, there are sections of the media that aren’t happy with players being gracious in defeat. A new style of leadership is emerging before our eyes and not everyone is embracing the change.Around here every moment was savoured, even more so than the delicious party pies that were dripping with tomato sauce. While we all too quickly throw the label “Hero” onto athletes, the true heroes on Monday night were the people who gave their time to meticulously plan the celebration at Wayside, so that those without homes and others who want to share significant moments with friends could join in the fun. We stayed open a little later to make sure this was a moment in which no one missed out. Thank you to you all who made it possible, you are my kind of heroes, who do it not for the adulation or praise but for the joy of creating community. Equity isn’t inevitable, it requires effort.
This is National Homelessness Week, and it’s a moment when we should collectively reflect on what could be the “state of our nation.” It’s an opportunity to assess where we are at and to deliberate on where we might be headed. The picture that is emerging is disheartening. Times are tough, I don’t need to tell you that. Across our country about 300 people a day are being turned away from homelessness support services. At Wayside, we’ve seen a sharp rise in new people coming to us. We are a community that refuses to believe that this is the kind of society we want to be, so at our core, we resoundingly reject the status quo. Here, every gesture of love is a powerful act of dissent, that invites the way into a new existence.
I recently caught up with someone who couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. He exclaimed, “I am so tired and so busy, and couldn’t be happier. Everything I have ever dreamt about I’ve gotten!” Just a few short years ago, his face was a mess of tears and pain. As we sat and grinned at each other, he looked at me, “You want me to say something really smart and wise right? Well, when I finally stopped hating myself, I was freed from tearing others down to feel OK, and suddenly, I had so much more room to love, and it changed my life. That, and getting a new set of teeth! NOW THE CHICKS LOVE ME!”
This Sunday a few brave and compassionate souls have stepped up to run the chapel service, while I will be nervously running the City2Surf with my 14-year-old niece, who is a state representative cross country runner and is keen to make me feel as old as I look. If you see me, please yell out and stop me “for a chat”, especially as we head up Heartbreak Hill!
Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle.
Rev. Jon OwenCEO & Pastor Wayside Chapel
P.S. Thank you to everyone who donated to Byron Gray’s City2Surf efforts. He said the smile on his face was bigger than Luna Park and he was blown away by your kindness. It’s not too late to throw your support behind Team Wayside, a group of super committed staff, visitors and community members who are running for love.
Listen to the audio recording below: