Oh Happy Day!

Dear Inner Circle,

Easter is akin to a grand final week for those of us in roles like mine. There’s always so much to arrange that the gold from the rush often reveals itself only afterwards. Some rare people possess the ability to “see in the moment”; I’m more likely to find it in the rearview mirror. This note is often a chance to sit back and serve as a reminder that love is a presence that always reveals itself, even if we are absent. Life is lived at such a pace that many, when asked about their day, look blank and struggle to recall the past 12 hours. It can resemble a typed page full of words with a broken space bar: full of effort but possessing little meaning. Stopping and breathing helps make sense of it all, especially if we make this discipline part of our routine. I often wonder who benefits from us not stopping, remaining frantic, and lurching to the next thing. It’s the enemy of community and degrades our souls, in the process, pushing us toward temporary relief in substances and splurges. Stopping then, is an act of rebellion, an act of restoration. Only if we lie down in green pastures can we restore our souls.  

One of our neighbours here in Kings Cross walked into Wayside a little over a year ago. She’d come here many times over the years to perform as part of a well-known gospel choir we love. But on this day, her legs weren’t working as well; a mystery illness was taking hold, and she could no longer get up the stairs into her apartment. Our staff sat with her as she shared her story through tears of worry and pain. They helped her connect with local health services and talked with her landlord. The next year or so would be spent in hospital and care facilities, filled with all kinds of attempts to diagnose, and treat her. She lost her job, her apartment; all her belongings were in bags held in the offices of compassionate social workers, while solutions were being worked on. 

Life is different now for our neighbour. She’s out of the hospital, requires a wheelchair to move about, and is in disability-supported housing almost an hour away from Wayside. Despite losing much of what many of us take for granted—mobility, independence, and motor function — her spirit remains unbroken. She has most of the use of one arm and hand, which is amazing because she can still hold a microphone, and boy, can she still sing! Her voice is as strong and powerful as ever. I wish you could have been here, Inner Circle, on Easter Sunday just gone, when she led the community in a spine-tingling version of Oh Happy Day. “She’s got some pipes on her,” an admirer winked at me. The place went understandably nuts and demanded an encore at the end of the service. What an incredible gift she shared with us all.  

One normally shy fella tried to channel his best Sister Act soprano voice, and while he missed it by an octave or three, we all celebrated the attempt. Joy lies in the attempt, especially when done within a loving community. A minute later, a scuffle broke out in another part of the chapel, and words were exchanged that should never be spoken anywhere. As one heart heals, another breaks; sadly that’s the reality of life here.  

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle, 


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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