Dear Inner Circle,

Currently people are alert not just to their own need to preserve health, but to the need to preserve the health of others. I doubt any of us have ever witnessed a phenomenon quite like this in our lifetime. The pain of this moment is real and surely no-one on earth would volunteer for a pandemic, yet it has not been without its redeeming and restorative qualities of creating community and focusing on others. Likewise, I suspect that love only comes through disruption. Before I met Lisa, my feet were planted on a clear path of career and hopefully success. In her I met an already accomplished academic who cared nothing for a career path or success. Her only ambition was to make the world a fairer, more just place. The entry of love beyond my dreams was preceded by confusion, inconvenience and with the dismay of my family who were on board with ’Plan A’. I forget now what my preconceived idea of being a father was all about, but I quickly learned that setting aside such ideas was lesson number one in fatherhood. The entry of new unimagined love was also a journey of those pre-conceived ideas crashing. Realising that I was part of something bigger, wider and strangely more beautiful seems to involve the death of my ’puny will’ for the sake of a ’big will’; a destiny to which I walk with my whole being.

More than ever we’re understanding that the health of each one is critical to the health of all. I hear the pain of puny individual wills being set aside in favour of a will for the health of all. Maybe, just maybe, this could be a lesson learned world-wide. If we could get everyone in this country COVID free, there is no way that we could head into the future with confidence, while the health of near neighbours suffered. Australia won’t be able to rest until Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and indeed, the whole world has this under control. To look after just our own, is a puny ambition. We don’t often think about the health of the whole world, but what a wonderful new world it would be if this became our new priority. Yes there is pain, but there’s also a big destiny calling us too. Only someone who knows the shattering of the puny, knows anything about the freedom and joy that comes from heading toward a shared destiny. Someone who generally gets whatever they want in life, will be the last to understand that freedom.

Most of you will know that some people in the travel industry, university academics and overseas students are amongst some of the groups who are not just inconvenienced, but who have watched their predictable world evaporate. Many people are losing jobs just at the time when the job market is evaporating. Yesterday I sat with a fellow who has a mortgage, children in a private school, a flash car under finance, no job and limited savings. On top of financial pressures, many of our Wayside visitors are also trying to cope with the nasty bite of isolation. Some who count on Wayside for community and support are right now in secure hospitals and on suicide watch. I sat with one such person yesterday. Her first question was, “When is Wayside going back to normal?” I started to explain that we need to consider the risk to the health of everyone right now, but not more than three words into my sentence, the woman let out a groan that came from the depths of her soul. Her groan cut me in two and made me want to say, “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”, but all I had for her was to be alongside her in that moment, as a tower of weakness. After about 30 minutes and before I left, we actually laughed together. I didn’t make any promises except for the obvious one, that I love her and the community which we are all part of, will one day return.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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