Dear Inner Circle,
The heart of nearly every parent is easily broken. No book in the world warns you that a little piece of your heart has been placed within the precious creature before you, never to be yours again. No one tells you that whilst you do not own them (they are on loan from the universe for a brief moment), your happiness often is only ever at the level of your unhappiest child.
Imagine the heart of a mother who was recently trying and failing to express how grateful she is to have spent time with her son for the first time in years. After long bouts of addiction and incarceration he was coming to Wayside, where he was gently yet persistently encouraged to take the brave step towards sobriety. For the first time since he was a boy, they spent days together and even ended up staying together in a hotel. They couldn’t afford a room with a TV but instead spent the night talking, recovering the lost years, walking together during the days. “I heard him laugh, and then he burst into tears with laughter, he hasn’t done that since he as 11,” she told me. He asked her questions about her life, questions he had never asked before, about the father he hadn’t met, and the good times he and his mother shared. She knew how lucky she was to have this time, denied to so many others who have children that have gone down the same path, and she could feel that her heart was slowly healing.
I delight in nothing more than sharing meals, yet some days, even the raging extrovert in me pleads for silence. I debated going for a head-clearing training run for next month’s City2Surf, but instead I grabbed lunch and headed down to Bondi Beach, where I pulled my hood over my head and sat in the beautiful sunshine. As I was about to bite into my sandwich, someone sat next to me on the bench, “I thought you could do with some company!” I was stunned, not at the boldness of her approach, but that she addressed me at all. For many years this shy woman did all she could to avoid eye-contact with everyone and was so wrapped up in self-hate that all she could do was harm herself. Now before me was a remarkable woman, who proudly informed me that she was about to graduate from TAFE. A moment like that called for a celebration, so right there on the park bench, I tore the panini in half, and we “toasted” our sandwiches with delight and shared a great laugh.
The struggles we face in life are not found when the ledger of negative feelings outweighs the positive, but rather when we are stuck in a rut. We don’t exist at Wayside Chapel to make people feel happy, or to provide comfort in isolation, but rather to invite them back into the world of community, a risk to be sure, but that’s where the healing and the magic happens.
Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle.
Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Listen to the audio recording here: