Laughter and Wisdom

Dear Inner Circle,

Looking back over the past few weeks this note has covered some heavy ground. Humour is a gift, which can sometimes be earned through suffering and solidarity, so I’m pleased to report that laughter is always in good supply around this place. Even as I snuck in this morning in the rain, as my umbrella broke and I cursed it out loud, someone waiting to get inside for a shower gave me a look and said, “I feel you mate, my newspaper broke on me last night”. He roared to the mirth of all of those assembled.

A highlight last week was the graduation of fifteen young people from phase one of our Wingspan Project program. The celebration marked their progression into employment in our social enterprise Heart Cafe and op shops. If you heard the story of one young person who six months ago couldn’t get out of bed, but today was in meaningful employment and loving it, you’d be amazed and inspired. A recurring theme from the young people was, in a tone of amazement, “I had no idea a community like this existed and I never dreamed that I’d be part of it.” They’d all done so well that my impression was that each one was always talented, competent, employable, and worthy of respect, except that they didn’t know it. My congratulations to each of the young people and to the extraordinary team that is The Wingspan Project. What a night of “in your face” success. I’m so thankful to have witnessed that night and I know we’ll continue to walk alongside each one as they navigate the challenges ahead and continue to reach for their destiny. No sooner had the team that loves, guides, and supports these amazing young people celebrated with them, than they welcomed a whole new group of young people into the program.

It was so tempting to run up to them to tell the new participants they are going to love this, but, experience shows that whilst love is offered, it is better offered as a fragile gift rather than proclaimed as a song. As I spoke to welcome them to Wayside, I saw their beautiful faces full of anticipation but also trepidation. I was reminded of a young boy who once ran away from his house and hid in our backyard. After his mum raised the alarm and after a few frantic hours of searching, he was located weeping underneath our house. After being coaxed out with a chocolate bar he calmed down a little and then cried a little more. His life was a series of appointments and disappointments with his dad, who would breeze in and out of his life, making wild promises that he would too easily, eventually breaking his little heart. Is it any wonder that the promise of another chance holds little weight when spoken into some hearts? It is only a promise that shows up every day and refuses to quit that changes lives. I couldn’t be prouder of our Wingspan Team.

All wisdom I reckon is just cleverness with the guts kicked out of it, once you permit the kick to teach you its lesson then you are on the right path.

Sometimes I wish there was an easier path, our precious Inner Circle,



Jon Owen

Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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