I had a mate who was once fired for being “unproductive” at work. Even when he was on his last warning and his boss asked him what he had accomplished that day, he was able, with his head held high, to say, “Today I did nothing that you would count as useful.” He worked in a super max prison and as he walked past one of the solitary confinement cells that day a calloused and tattooed hand was thrust out, and a big booming but broken voice pleaded, “Brother, could you please just hold my hand for a bit?” My mate spent the next two hours in a half squatting position that hurt his back, but he didn’t let go of that man’s hand. Could anything have been more important than that shared moment between two people? You could easily argue so, but in a world where we have our values upside down my mate’s actions will always come out on top.
It was a delight to hear some of our volunteers last week at our online “Voices from the Frontline” series. Volunteers are such a vital part of our community, many come in here with nothing to prove and everything to give and our mission can spring to life only because of their presence. True community is marked by mutuality, an exchange of gifts. Some walk in here with the feeling that they have nothing to give, while others are convinced there is absolutely nothing they can receive, both walk away lonely, hurt and burnt out. Community is rarely intelligible for both the overly open and overly closed heart. Community is far more caught than taught and thankfully our volunteers are great catchers. They often help guide us and like my mate, bend over backwards to hold a hand or to lend an ear recognising that each task is of the utmost of importance.
One of our most beloved visitors, Coralie, who was two days short of 99, passed away a couple of nights ago. What a character we have lost, she could be cantankerous, kind, and everything in between. She was so austere, of good stock, and could hold an audience with a kind of regal presence, not just because of her age, but because of her obvious intellect and tone of speech. She most certainly ‘suffered’ the rest of the community, which was always humorous, because nearly all loved her. Last week our Graham Long helped her across the road when she politely thanked him with “You are such a kind young chap.” The moment lifted Grandpa onto cloud nine.
There is a world of difference between taking a break from something and taking a break for something. I’m pleased to tell you that I’m taking all of next week off for school holidays to spend time with the family, to read, relax and picnic my heart out. I’m keen to return deeper and sharper for the sake of Wayside, so you won’t hear from me next week.
Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle.
Pastor and CEO
PS Don’t miss your chance to contribute to our community and get fit at the same time. Long Walk Home starts next Saturday 2 October! Sign up now at longwalkhome.com.au.