Every act of kindness we put out into the world never goes to waste. From time to time you will hear us issuing the call for toiletries – especially the smaller kind that travellers can grab from their hotel rooms on their way back home. All contributions to us are valuable, and even though high-end brands sometimes turn up, we are grateful for all of them. One of our wonderful team members fell into a conversation with a man who had found himself back on the street and who had come in asking for a shower. Carefully, she selected a plush towel and took a moment to pair a particularly fancy shampoo with an equally select brand of conditioner. Later he sought me out to tell me how, as he closed his eyes in the shower and lathered his head with the shampoo, it released a bouquet that transported him back to a time when his life was in a much better place. Then as he cracked opened the carefully-matched conditioner, another bouquet quickly enveloped him. “For a few moments I felt like I was back in New York, in one of those expensive hotels I loved staying in on business trips, but when I opened my eyes I remembered, ‘Sh&t! I’m still at Wayside!’” But he quickly followed with, “Thank you though, the magic moment filled my heart with joy and I can face the world afresh”. It’s not often that a bloke’s account of his morning shower has the ability to move your heart. Angels take a little extra time to turn showers into occasions for renewal.
I remember speaking to a young woman for whom every touchstone of her life was a sharp rock filled with pain, abuse and ultimately rejection, and as a result she had leapt into even less-safe situations and relationships. Today though, she bounded up and gave me a warm embrace full of confidence and strength. What a contrast this encounter was! Self-doubt had left her feeling powerless and weak, but through the love and support she received at Wayside she is living a life she only dreamed about as a young girl. She speaks at a mile a minute and her intent is occasionally better than her choice of words. She spoke of reading about a Japanese tradition where cracks in pottery are sealed with gold because wholeness does not consist in the absence of wounds, but rather, through them. “When I came to Wayside I was broken, but then, better than gold, Wayside poured diamonds into my crack, Jon!” We laughed at her choice of words, and hugged. While I loved hearing this story it is still true that at Wayside we win some and we lose some. But as I’ve heard Graham say sometimes, “I’d rather be lost with you than saved without you.”
Easter is a great time of year not to be on the roads but if you’re travelling, keep mindful of safety because we need every member of our inner circle. It’s an important time of year for the church – a time to remember that the most important things happen in the least likely of places. We remember that Jesus was not crucified between two candles but between two thieves. It’s a great time of year to be captured by a love that excludes no one. It’s a time to remember that love might be free but it isn’t cheap. Fairy-land believes in fluffy love where all ends happily ever after but real-world love demands sacrifice. Every parent whose heart breaks for a child who suffers; any lover ever betrayed by a kiss; anyone who has known loss and grief, knows more about Easter than any Reverend frocked up and ready to conduct religious ceremony.
Have a great weekend and thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Pastor & CEO