Dear Inner Circle,

Not all time is created equally. Ask any child how old they are, and they will proudly provide answers like “3 and a half” and “nearly 6!” They employ a measure which reminds us that, at their age, the length between birthdays can seemingly take years. Once, one of my daughters felt glum on Boxing Day, when I asked why, she said, “It will take forever for Christmas to come again and I’ll be old by then!” However, ask anyone in their second half of life and they will tell you that Christmas seems to roll around every few months. Talk to someone who is waiting for time to an inevitable fate or talk to someone who sees time as a path to their destiny and you’ll most likely find two radically different takes on ‘time’.

It takes quite an effort for us to see time as an arena for change. For so much of history, time was seen as cyclical, where nothing new could emerge. What happens is what always happens. This is the fastest route to despair. Sometimes you can see it in the bodies of those who slouch with their heads buried deep in their hands in our cafes. You rarely will see their eyes, as they are staring at the backs of the palms, which is about as far into the future as some can see. Our staff and volunteers can be confronting in a gentle way by their mere presence alone because they view time differently. Time is precious, time is a gift, we can create community in time. Hopeful time comes to us from the future. The first step is sometimes to gently invite a person to see that a new future awaits them if they have the courage to move towards it. This isn’t achieved through clever counselling but through the power of persistent and patient presence, that sits alongside and waits for that moment when life and hope will emerge. I bumped into a woman walking down the street who had a smile that warmed the whole street. She went from running a business to being in a refuge within 7 months. It took her 6 years to trust again, but once again she has a future filled with hope because of the love she was shown. We embraced silently and she walked on, heading to work

Aboriginal Elder, Ray Minniecon, whose wisdom should be bottled, says, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past”. History and memory are of importance only insofar as it serves to remind us of the direction in which we are moving. I met a young man yesterday, for whom the flicker of life is back in his eyes. He talks now about where his life is headed, after years of addiction and despair. He is back on his feet and “clean” (that’s his word). He knows where he has been, and instead of being filled with rage at suffering abuse as he once was, or trying to deny his demons, he wants to use that to help others who find themselves in the same situation.  He is on his way.

Most of time ticks by in a chronological manner. We think because we measure time in uniform units, that life just comes to us in a regular way. But time flies and time stops. A few weeks ago, we gathered around a couple who love each other deeply. They met on the streets and after years of struggle and their love has boosted the will power of each for the sake of the other. They are both gloriously free of their addictions. Last month they found that they have another battle to face that involves chemotherapy. As a community on Sunday we gathered around them, holding them gently, and sang a song. Who would guess that such power could come from such a weak act as singing a song, that words could not express? Time stood still as the couple who’d felt devastated and abandoned, knew that they were not alone and that we’d thrive or fail together.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,


Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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