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Nothing Teaches Everything

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Dear Inner Circle,

On the odd occasion I find myself standing in Wayside Chapel after closing time with everyone gone for the night. I like to turn off the lights for a minute and stand in the darkness and it doesn’t take long to be filled with a sense of the history of this place. You can never be alone in that place as there are far too many memories of the people who have filled this building with their presence. Soon their faces come to my mind and I like to spend a few minutes in communion with them. It is a reminder that the most important things happen in the most unlikely of places, which I like to share with my silent companions. Just yesterday I was talking about a friend who is going on a great road trip, the first in many years, away from this place to re-connect with her story and culture. After I finished a man who has lived on the streets for many years on and off cornered me, and shoved $50 into my hand and whispered, “Make sure she gets this, she’s is going to need it, she has been nothing but kind to me.” The generosity of this act, from a man with nothing, teaches us everything.

My desk at the moment reflects the state of my mind with so many worthwhile projects demanding attention. Time is so beautifully finite and it reminds us that we too are finite. We are a speck in an infinite universe, here for a mere breath in the span of history, another link in a great chain of being. In the middle of the current pile of papers and books that I yearn to read is a candle. The most important appointments of the day are always filled with disappointments. A young mother who is working as hard as she can to stay sober has been fighting to see her children for this first time since Christmas. She receives a message that they all have COVID and the visit will be postponed again and she yells at me to do something, while clutching a bottle in which she is searching for some comfort. Another friend is desperately trying to thread the needle of detox and rehab but can’t quite line it up properly and is once again descending into self hate, and begs me to “make a miracle happen.” Another woman is weeping because her partner who she trusted with their rent money has instead been sneaking to feed it all into a pokie machine and has now disappeared, whilst she sits in tears clutching the red eviction notice. For all the practical details there are things that can be done, beyond that there is only prayer. For the healing of a broken heart, for the grief of a parent to not be consumed by the darkness, for the betrayal of a lover to not destroy hope or for the victory that love will win over hate. So I light that candle, which burns in the midst of all the paperwork and it reminds me to hold the hurts up to a source beyond all of us.

Easter is that time when we stop for a moment to remember that there is never a moment so frozen in time that it becomes the whole story. It is an important time for the church, as we are reminded that Jesus was crucified between two criminals and not between two floral arrangements. That the greatest love comes at the greatest cost. And any parent who’s heart breaks at the suffering of a child, anyone who’s ever felt the betrayal of a lover with a kiss, or anyone who has been abandoned by their closest friends truly knows more about Easter than any minister who has never experienced loss fronting up to deliver a talk this Sunday.

Wishing you a wonderful Easter, my precious Inner Circle,

Jon

Rev. Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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