Dear Inner Circle,

I was sitting in our front garden yesterday when a woman ran towards me and shouted, “I need money!” I guess she hoped that I’d react to her sense of panic and find some cash in super-quick time. “What do you need?” I asked. “A thousand dollars” she replied. “Woah!”, I said, “You’re miles out of my ballpark to help.” “But you drive a Mercedes Benz!” she said. I was a bit surprised. “It’s silver and it’s convertible.” I confessed that I would love a Mercedes if I could afford one, but she was sadly mistaken, “A mate had one that I rode in it once but that was my only ride in a Mercedes ever. When he sold it, I needed a course of anti-depressants and some serious counselling.” The lady looked at me like she never believed a word. “But, you own this whole building” she said. She looked in awe at the front of the Wayside building. Lots of street dwellers have the view that the building in front of us is my personal possession. “I hate to ruin a good story but I don’t own any building of any kind, anywhere.” “Well, what about one hundred dollars then?” she asked. “How about two dollars?” I offered. The deal was done.

I’m writing this note a day early because by the time you are reading this, I’ll be in Brisbane to appear on “Conversations” with Richard Fidler on ABC Radio National. I’m taking three of my granddaughters with me so that they can visit their big sister who has fallen in love with a soldier in the Australian Defence Force and now lives in Brisbane. I lay awake at night thinking up new ways of making these girls say, “Wow”. What a trip this will be as my girls encourage me to break all the rules, only for them to promptly “dob” on me when we get back to Mum. If there’s more fun to be had than being a grandfather, I can’t begin to imagine what it might be.
A woman whom I know only by sight, surprised me on the weekend by throwing her arms around me. Her breathing suggested she was upset, although I didn’t see her face until she released her grip. She had just found a friend deceased. Although an “earthy” woman, it became obvious that she was not familiar with death and so all the panic of the unthinkable was living on her face. She spoke to me of the shock, the colours, smells. I think my tone of voice and our connection between faces, seemed to be of some help. In due course, the kindest face I know appeared, our Community Services Worker John Walters, and he spent what time it took to restore some level of calm. Although her level of grief was obvious, a man was impatiently waiting to grab my attention. He has spoken to me once before about a family fight that reached unthinkable levels. Now that fight has become focused on the allocation of a deceased estate. Not much is quite as ugly as such a fight revolving around money. The last time we spoke, a long, complicated story took the best part of an hour to hear. Now I was being presented with documentary evidence. This fellow’s grievance was not just about the estate, but a life-long history of unfair treatment, documented back to kindergarten. I couldn’t possibly read the handful of documents I was given and although I could sympathise to some extent, I couldn’t begin to understand the size and complexities of this story. This guy didn’t want sympathy so much as he wanted me to pass judgement on matters that were fifty years old, as well as matters that happened this week. Where the tombstone reads, “I was right”, is the hardest of all graves from which to arise.

Notwithstanding some propaganda about my leadership qualities, the real truth is that Wayside’s incredible history of success is due in large measure to the competence and passion of our Board. We’re currently looking for a Company Secretary and maybe you or someone you know might love such a role. You’d work with the CEO and the Chair as well as with the heads of our various Board sub-committees to ensure our governance is of the highest standard as Wayside heads into a promising and complex future. We’re looking for someone with “runs on the board”. Perhaps someone who is nearing retirement from the corporate sector in such a role, who’d like a paid role in a reduced capacity into the future. Does this sound like you or someone you know? I’m keen to hear from you.Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Graham

Rev Graham Long
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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