Dear Inner Circle,
First, a moment of pure, heartfelt gratitude for you. As the seasons change and we’re emerging from the excitement of the City2Surf (it’s basically summer now, right?) we look back on recent months. Wayside Chapel is overwhelmed by the waves of love and support you’ve shown. Whether it was supporting our winter appeal, chipping in to ‘Warm a Heart’, or cheering on our runners last weekend – every bit mattered. It’s your acts of kindness, both big and small, that inch us closer to a community with no ‘us and them’, so thank you.
Last night, there was a gathering of some significance at my place as we celebrated the “Final Sydney Birthday” for a very close friend. In 2008, this young man from Melbourne came to live and work with my wife, Lisa, and me in Mount Druitt. Over time he became family, and we have remained close, never living more than a few kilometres apart since he arrived. Over the years we’ve got to bear witness to the way he has selflessly poured his life into so many others, and now, after 15 years, he has decided it is time to head back down south.After dinner, we sat around a fire in the backyard, taking turns to share the impact he’s had on our lives. This is a bit of a family ritual we have developed, and it isn’t an easy discipline to adjust to. It’s strange how often we refrain from speaking truths that matter about the ones we love. People from various stages of his time in Sydney, including kids from youth clubs he once led who are now amazing adults and friends, spoke of the ways he had made a positive contribution to their lives. For us, he has been the closest thing to an uncle our children have had. One of our kids, who has had a rough few years, shared how every time she sees him he reminds her of everything that was good about her childhood. Too many people chase admiration through the accumulation of titles and accolades, but it was clear from the testimonies shared, and the outpouring of love, that living a life of genuine connection leaves the most enduring legacy.
I have felt every part my age this week, after trying to keep up with my niece in the City2Surf. I dragged my legs that feel like they weigh a tonne a piece to Wayside, only to discover that Monday was a scheduled maintenance day for our lifts. Yet, one of the gifts of Wayside is how it offers perspective; often the temptation to complain is resisted when you see the faces of our community. As I gingerly took a seat at a table with two people who rely on walking sticks, and another who had recently undergone much-needed surgery after years of pain from having no cartilage in his knee, I exhaled in self-pity. “So, what’s your problem?” came the sharp dart from across the table. Glancing around, I quickly assured everyone that nothing was wrong, and we all burst out laughing.
Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle.
Rev. Jon OwenCEO & Pastor Wayside Chapel
P.S On Wednesday evening I’ll be joining Jordan from the Uluru Youth Network for a dynamic discussion on the Voice to Parliament. Please tune into this free online event from wherever you are and join us as we unravel this monumental proposition. Ready to shape history together? Register now.