Dear Inner Circle,

There are two things that ruin intimate relationships. The first is too much distance, and the second is not enough distance. How many times have good relationships ended with the pronouncement, “We just drifted apart”? What could be easier than drifting apart in a world where the pressure to survive, study, work, pay the bills, rent and mortgage plus raise the kids and so much more, keeps us preoccupied and busy solving problems while creating problems for the person who was once the love of our lives?

There is a point of no return and to reverse the drift, we must make time, especially for conversation. But intimacy is killed just as completely when we are too close. Others can be so close that we no longer see them. They can become like the inside of the eyelid. You know it’s there, but you don’t see it or feel it unless there is a serious problem. It’s hard to see those who are closest to us. Sometimes we must increase the distance in order to see them again. Husbands and wives need their own friends and their own hobbies, not to the point that the distance is too great, but to provide enough distance to make a relationship possible. The hardest people to love are those who are closest, mostly because we can’t see them; we tend to see only our own version of who they are. We’re looking into our heads not at the person as they are in front of us. Intimacy requires constant adjustment, a constant movement away from, and back into closeness again. In this age of painful social distancing, perhaps there is an opportunity for us to step back and see the real person again. To see afresh, behold them in wonder, free of our own interpretations and our own constructed ideals and images. This is a chance to heal relationships. Perhaps now we have room to see that mostly what annoyed us, are qualities that we least like in ourselves? Use this season to adjust your distance and the lense with which you see the people you know and love. You may be the one that is surprised.

Our volunteers are missing Wayside’s community life as much as our staff and visitors. I regularly bump into volunteers in the street who ask hopefully about when some semblance of normality will return. It’s lovely when these connections take place and they often come with stories that are little gems that I probably would have missed in ordinary times. One young volunteer who has been married for just over a year, told me that she’d been out with friends and arriving home around 2am. Not far from her house, she came across a dog who had sadly been run over. This young woman adores animals and so she stopped the car, put on her hazard lights and froze in a mix of panic and grief. She phoned her husband who’d been long asleep and tearfully told him about the dog on the road. When he arrived, she’d already anticipated making contact with the owners and then worried that they would think that she’d been the one who’d flattened their beloved dog. The husband examined the deceased animal and came back to the car. “I love you” he said, “but I’m not moving that dead possum off the road.” The care that our volunteers put towards all other beings, great and small, should never be underestimated!

I wanted to let you all know that Wayside’s Op Shops have now gone online! As you know many of our usual operations and fundraising streams have been suspended in recent times due to physical distancing requirements including our physical op shops. If you are looking for a way to support us, you can now buy eclectic, affordable, and ethical fashion online at thewaysidechapelopshop.com knowing that every dollar spent will be going back to Wayside Chapel to help support the people in our community who need it most.

Finally, a dear old fellow who has devoted his life to the discipline of drinking alcohol was hanging around the front of Wayside today. Our staff encourage people not to hang around in these crazy COVID days but I hadn’t seen this fellow in a couple of years and so I greeted him warmly only to have him yell at me. “Stay away from me! At least two metres”. I lowered my face mask and suddenly he recognised me. I was impressed by his vigilance, but wondered just how many people with dark skin, wearing a Wayside jumper look like me around here?  It was a nice encounter all the same.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon

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