A small group of us gathered in the chapel this week to farewell someone who few knew. He wasn’t one of our larger than life characters, but preferred to slip into Wayside to join in our Wednesday night Music Jam. He loved his Wednesday nights and at his funeral, his partner shared openly about their life together. They met after they had both turned their backs on a society that had turned it’s back on them. Separately, they lived by a lake near a remote outback township. Their tin shacks were separated by a body of water so she had a good view of him and when he tried to approach her, she threw rocks at him. No matter the number of rocks she hurled, he never yelled and always greeted her with kindness. After a couple of weeks, they spoke. Soon, they were inseparable, and their union gave them the courage to slowly re-engage with the world together. “I’d swap every single yesterday for just one more tomorrow. He was my world” she wept and we all fell silent.
We walk a sometimes precarious line at Wayside because we don’t use the language of “client” and “expert”, instead we see everyone who comes through our doors as a visitor. Yet language has a way of slipping into hollow noise. We live in a world where politicians can tell us that they act “for the people” while everyone can see that they act for themselves or the few. At Wayside we can say “visitor, guest, friend” with the meaning of “client and expert”. Words create worlds. We know the most at Wayside when we know ’no-thing’. When our relationships lead us to a human connection between two people, we certainly know no-thing. This is a movement greater than any symphony orchestra can play – when someone moves from being an object to a subject. When two people see each other not as a means to an end or as someone that needs to be managed, but as someone who holds the mysteries of the universe within them, it leads to awe, reverence and encounter. True relationship leads to connection, and connection to love. If real love ever makes you, ’feel good’, surely that is incidental to the activity but never constitutes the act of loving itself. How sadly does our culture get this the wrong way around? Listen to our love songs and look at our movies and you’ll hardly have to wonder how we’ve developed such a narcissistic culture. When it becomes someone’s job to keep you feeling good, love is no longer a fair exchange between two. Someone has disappeared to become the object of the other. This is where feelings of dominance can take over, and in it’s most extreme form, leads to domestic violence. Signs emerge long before any violence does, in subtle manipulation and control. The recent killing of a mother and her children is the end of a process, so we should begin our support where personal freedoms are curtailed, no matter how seemingly trivial they are. One of the most chilling memories Hannah Clarke’s mother has is when she was told by her daughter, “I was thinking it wasn’t abuse, because he never hit me.”
On a lighter note, last Wednesday night was the launch of Wayside’s ‘Heart Choir at the cafe’, our new ‘pub style’ community choir at the Heart Cafe in Bondi Beach. The beauty of the Heart Choir is that it has no auditions and no performances, which means everyone is welcome. Last week people from all backgrounds and ability gathered, connected by Wayside’s mission and a love of singing. They learnt Cher’s ‘Believe’ in three-part harmony, and literally sang their hearts out to the surprise of passing foot traffic and the results were spine-tingling. Watch it here. Someone there even went so far as to say that it was one of the best nights of her life, while someone else, not usually noted for their positivity, was glowing in their praises after being part of it. For more information, and to register your interest for the next ‘Heart Choir at the Cafe’ event on 8 April, see our Facebook event page. Spaces are limited. We can’t wait to see you there!
Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,
Pastor & CEO