This week I spent time with a young woman who woke up one day and found that she had been abandoned by her whole family at the age of 16. She went to school and got part time work but told no one. This brave young kid had to fend for herself and, by the skin of her fingernails, managed to make it through, until, under the stress of it all, she collapsed. To the world around her what appeared to be a series of poor decisions were actually the sign of a fragile life in free fall. She told me that she needed love not good advice.
The foundation stone of all we do here is love. Love demands we listen, we keep our ears open by closing our mouths. How often do we just listen in order to speak? How reflexive is our impulse to lurch to solutions or dazzle the sharer with our subject matter expertise at hand? I was deeply moved to see the way our people wrapped their arms of love and support around this vulnerable young woman.
Wayside is the place of the open microphone. Everyone has a voice here and most tend to use it to full effect, taking us from fits of laughter to tears of sorrow within mere breaths. The floor is intentionally left open because we believe that everyone has a contribution to make and a lesson to teach us. Where we stand determines what we see and if we stand above and apart from others, then we will only see threats and distractions. Who we stand with determines who we become.
When “Diversity Week” began when I was at school I was always the model student with my teachers because our world only saw diversity in terms of ethnicity. Somehow my brown skin juxtaposed against my Aussie accent was the perfect example of integration. Diversity around issues of identity and gender were not even on the agenda back then because they were still invisible. This past week we have heard the courage of the voices raised by women around our nation. They have been made visible only through the courage of these voices, who risked it all to share their story with the world. Thank you to all who have invited us to awaken to see our world anew, one that is still not created equally for all, your courage invites us to join in with its’ re-creation in new and fresh ways. To be open to hearing the truth is a demanding path, but it is the one we are all meant to be on.
Here’s to us all making the invisible, visible, our precious Inner Circle,
Pastor & CEO