Dear Inner Circle,

There is a season for everything in life, including the time to say goodbye. Over the years Graham and I have both written about one of the greatest characters Kings Cross has ever known. He wasn’t outrageous or flamboyant in the sense that tends to make people memorable. Rather it was his kindness that shone through him like a beacon. Even when our building is heaving with activity, his quiet nature, his quick wit and his ever-loyal dog would be a little safe harbour in the midst of a storm for many. Life will never be the same without him around, and all of us who knew him are richer for it. The last weeks of a person’s life often, but not always, reveals one’s true self. In the midst of great pain, he remained dignified, polite and hospitable until the very end. On Monday, 16 September at 1pm we will bid farewell to a good man in the chapel at Kings Cross. If you know who I’m talking about and have the time, please join us.

I asked someone this morning what they thought of the weekend’s latest football match and immediately received a lecture on just how little I knew about anything, and how I shouldn’t ask questions about which I had no idea. He was getting more and more agitated and moved away from me but continued on with the lecture. No one was listening but it didn’t seem to matter. While this was happening there was an intense discussion between a young lady and volunteer about a very specific item of clothing that was required. The volunteer was dealing with this with the utmost care and patience, especially as the young woman was listening to some loud music through her rather large headphones. Another one of our beautiful volunteers was attempting to very carefully explain to a man, who was not much in the mood to listen, about how no matter how much she could try, his phone wouldn’t work without battery. He was not willing to accept this fact. Our teams do manage minor miracles on a daily basis with limited resources but there are some things even they can’t achieve.

Life by the Wayside is a little bit like riding a roller coaster. The ups and downs flow freely and frequently and our people respond with seemingly endless stores of love and care. I am in awe of them, yet we know that there are limits, we are all precious and also we are all fragile. Today is R U OK? Day and for the occasion, all Wayside staff across both locations are going to come together to celebrate each other and talk about how we are doing. There will be a few fun activities in store for them, including a pie-tasting contest. News has come through this week of a sports-star that has died in a “single car accident”. He was an unofficial campaigner for men’s mental health and I will always remember when he talked about his struggles. As a young man he once shared they had always been told to forget their emotions and suck it up, and later he realised that when we struggle it is important to take our hand and stick it up, and say, “I’m not going so well”. Our lives are a journey and not an event, so we will re-commit to walking and talking together as we care for all those who fall by the Wayside. We will remind ourselves that we don’t need anyone to be an expert, we just have to be present enough to look someone in the eyes, ask how they are and listen. We know that when any of us walk away feeling met rather than worked on, then positive action is a likely outcome.

Starting next Tuesday 17 September, our new three-part series Gutter Philosophy with Rev Graham Long begins, where Graham will discuss the big questions. It’s your last chance to buy tickets for the first session that asks “Can we be certain of anything?” based on teachings from Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. If you’ve been looking to hear more wisdom from the loving ‘grandfather’ of Wayside, buy your ticket to the first session for $30 here, or buy all three for a special price of $75 here. We hope to see you there.

Thanks for being a caring Inner Circle,

Jon 

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