Dear Inner Circle,

“Living in the present” is a populist phrase that is heard and aspired to by many. But this kind of focused activity, especially with important goals attached can be a quick journey to blindness. We can be so busy with our focus fixed on the outcome that we forget to see what is in front of us. I would never argue for an approach to life or work that lacked goals. However I know well the reality at the beginning of each day, hoping to meet another human being who has flourished, may be met by disappointment by the end of it. At these times I remind myself that I am not here to manage people or turn them into a means to some end. But ‘living in the present’ should be more about suspending my goals and being OK with life being inconvenient, frustrating and uncomfortable. These times are an invitation to life and presence.

Yesterday I witnessed a most remarkable meeting. A son has been seeking a meeting with a father he’s never met. The son who is now 50 years old, has known of his father’s existence and shown extraordinary determination to find him. With the help of some professionals whose business it is to find the whereabouts of people, and through a Wayside publicity photo, the man found his biological father. This meeting was the end result of a 15-year search. The father is well known to us. We’ve known him and loved him for years and we’re aware of many issues that have dominated the life of a man whose own childhood was one of hardship spent in war-time Germany. The father at first declined to consent to a meeting but slowly changed his mind. Talk about inconvenient presence – the meeting was difficult. The silences lasted forever and the words were few. It was an honour to witness such an awkward invitation to life. It was tough but future meetings have been planned and arranged. Our often cranky, hard man has agreed to meet some grandchildren he never knew existed. Wow! At his age, I’m sure this was the last thing he expected, but the opportunity for a new beginning all the same.

Last week a significant milestone was reached – our social enterprise Heart Cafe in Bondi turned 1! A few of us gathered at the Heart Cafe to celebrate by sharing a meal together. While enjoying the amazing food I couldn’t take my eyes off the young guy who was serving it to us. A few years ago he was living on the streets leading a life that, through much pain, was lacking purpose and direction. Through his involvement with our youth workers, and the education and paid work opportunities offered through our Wingspan Project, he has begun to flourish and reach some of his own milestones including securing housing. He also tells the corniest jokes every time I see him, which makes me love him all the more. He spent the whole night smiling as we ate the food he served us. A cafe thriving after a year is an amazing achievement, but the positive impacts that we are making in the lives of the young people working behind the scenes is our crowning achievement so far. Thank you to all who have supported us in making this happen.

I want to remind you, our Inner Circle, that next Friday 29 November, many of us will be walking the 28km Long Walk Home from Parramatta to Kings Cross in support of people experiencing homelessness. Josh Macey, who has been a visitor at Wayside for over five years and done his fair share of walking whilst sleeping rough, has decided to put on his walking shoes to raise money for Wayside. Show your support for Josh by donating to his Long Walk Home fundraising page. All proceeds go to Wayside Chapel so that we can continue to provide the invitation to life that our community needs.

Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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