Dear Inner Circle,

There are few places where you can lament birthdays that won’t be celebrated, school assemblies that won’t be attended, weddings that didn’t happen and grandchildren that will never be born. The ache in a parent who loses a child remains forever. By the time you’re reading this today, I will be with some people who will make a public park a hallowed place. Time doesn’t heal all wounds and really some wounds ought not to heal. I never want to live as if I’d never lost a precious son and nor do I want to be a wet blanket for anyone else’s journey. Precious and few are the moments when such a deep pain can become familiar and even a friend. This morning I will lead such a ceremony. Tomorrow night, I will lead a similar ceremony in a Catholic cathedral that will be packed with parents who’ve lost their children. What a painful honour and agonising joy to share life in such fullness with others.

I have news to share regarding Robyn’s health. The short version of a long story is that although she was diagnosed as having had a stroke, eventually she was diagnosed with a syndrome that is caused by cerebral fluid not draining from the head properly, causing symptoms of paralysis and of a stroke. The good news is that in 95% of cases, people with this syndrome recover to full health. Now I’m not a betting person, but I like those odds, and I’m pleased and relieved to tell you that Robyn is home from hospital and every day she seems to be doing better than the day before. I can’t begin to express our relief. Thank you for the overwhelming number of messages of love and support in response to last week’s note.
Every morning I turn on my phone and begin my day by responding to a stream of messages on social media. This morning a woman had been pouring out her heart because her husband is making her choose between her marriage and her unborn child. Another beautiful young woman has been getting visions from God through the night and decided it was a sign to “go off her meds”. I begged her to seek medical supervision and support. A few hours later and she sent me a message to say that she’d gone to the Emergency Department and suddenly realised just how unwell she was. She thanked me for the advice. I avoid scrolling through Facebook to see what people’s cats are up to today, but I was grateful to see this message this week from a man whose struggle has been profound, and whose journey to life has been agonising, slow, real and joyous –

“Despite the challenges faced daily, or perhaps because of them, I love my life. I love my little home, it’s not much but I’m comfortable. My leather couch that most nights I fall asleep on, my 42-inch tv that switches itself off because I’ve dropped off to sleep. I especially love my job and the challenges it brings. I love the relationships I have with people today. There are people who I trust all around. One of my colleagues who I am extremely fond of told me they love me today. I love being alive. I love knowing that once upon a time I didn’t know how I could get through the next 24 hours without self-harming. Now I have such a fabulous community around me of people that can be relied upon, people that can rely on me to be of real help if need be. Another person told me today they named their child after me nine years ago. Nine years ago, I was the nice bloke who lived next door to a struggling couple who were about to have a baby. I feel honoured by this. I love that it is natural to be up and down, ebb and flow, close and detached. I realise that while I may not have money I am extremely rich in love and friendships. Those of you out there who listen to me, who allow me to be, however I happen to be. Thanks for being my wealth.”

Now that my friends, is awesome.Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Graham

Rev Graham Long
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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