Dear Inner Circle,

Outside my window just now a bloke yelled, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for I am the meanest son of a b**ch in this city.” How funny is that?

On my way into the building this morning, I was greeted by a smile that reached into my heart and robbed my brain of any content. A dear man who I have seen through many a ‘dark night of the soul’ was busting to see me and tell me that he hadn’t gambled since September. It isn’t alcohol or any other drugs that bring this fellow down, but the pokies. For years he’s poured what little money he had into those machines and each time it was as if he was feeding his character into them. The emptiness and self-loathing that followed was disturbing to behold. It was not just that he suffered the indignity of going for days without food or needing to beg for a bus fare. It was that he was willing to be robbed in this way. His body shows evidence of deep self-hate, with thousands of scars from deep, untreated wounds. Both of us knew the significance of this meeting, yet we did not need to say a word. His face said it all. He was here and he was ok and we threw our arms around each other because we both knew and rejoiced in it. Afterwards, we told some silly jokes to each other over coffee, his shout.

An elderly woman made an appointment to see me this week. She’s said she was feeling quite flat, but really knew why she needed to talk. She revealed that the weekend before, she had done her best to break a marriage. She tried to seduce a much younger, married man. She made no attempt to find some redeeming angle for her behaviour. She knew that the young man was married and to ensnare him into an encounter would do nothing but harm his marriage even if it were to remain a secret. The man did not jump into bed with this lady even though she tried every trick she knew. “Craig McLachlan knows nothing about harassment compared to me”, she said. Interestingly this lady caught herself anticipating this encounter playing out in pure pain. “He’d never be happy with an old bag like me”, she said. “You know sometimes, you just want the wrong thing? Sometimes you really want the pain.” Pondering this encounter since, I realised that many would prefer an intense disaster to something predictable and perhaps, dull. This wonderful old lady caught herself out. She felt embarrassed for not succeeding in her plan to ruin someone’s life and she also felt like a “bit of a duffer” because she could see that her plan was bound for disaster every way. She even anticipated the speeches she would give about being old and rejected and pushed to one side by this young man in due course. She had avoided untold heartache, not of her own will, but only because she’d lost some of her old sex appeal. This was a discussion full of rare and breath-taking honesty. This old girl had been pretty wild in her day yet wise enough to see she was the author of her own folly. I was given permission to tell this story. It was a moment of real intimacy.
Two sparklers in the night
So here we go! I’m on the home run. I’ve been writing this note every week since 2004. As I begin 2018, the urge to talk to people about how life was 13 years ago is strong but as soon as I start to reminisce, I soon realised that few can truly understand where we started or how remarkable this journey has been. Moving on is the right thing for me to do. I’m quickly becoming as deaf as a post and I’m often left wondering what I said “yes” to in a meeting as I walk away. With each passing day, I sense the wonderful path ahead for Wayside. This note will continue, perhaps sometimes by my hand and most likely by some other hand that you will grow to love. Our mission is awesome, way bigger than any of us, and when it is central, awesome things happen.

Wayside runs 365 days a year and so there has been no “down time” over this Christmas, New Year period. Actually, as most helping agencies close over this period, we’ve discovered just how busy, “busy” gets. It’s an honour to be a part of this adventure. It’s an honour to belong to the most inspiring team I’ve ever encountered. It’s an honour to work alongside our hundreds of active volunteers.

It’s also an honour beyond words that you are part of our inner circle,


Rev Graham Long
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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