You Can’t Eat Stubbornness

Dear Inner Circle,

There’s a group of female elders that gather informally in our horseshoe outside Wayside. Whenever I hear them from my office window, I usually abandon whatever I am doing to just sit with them. Their warmth and loving wisdom exude a powerful energy which is as restorative as the healing soups our community cafe is currently serving up this bitter winter.  
Among them is one of my favourites (please keep that between us). She’s loud, hilarious, and always up for a joke. This week, I found her in a bit of a flap, playfully berating a tall, heavily muscular man, the way a grandmother would. “You can’t eat stubbornness!” she chided. He submitted appropriately with a bowed head as she declared, “Now stay there and shut up, no back chat, I am going to feed you like a pelican!” Hidden in these words is an undercurrent of deep humility. Most of what passes as humility is often just self-deprecation in disguise. But this woman embodies true humility – an inner confidence and a firm understanding of her place, which allows her to see and hear things that many miss. While most of us see things not as they are, but as we are, she sees it as it is. She is confident enough to be open to others, to hear them first and fully, and then respond accordingly. She is a masterclass in action, with a wicked cackle. To be surrounded by such wise aunties is my safe place, after being raised by five strong women. 

Love is a radical act; it always has been and always will be. I am deep into Alana Valentine’s book, Wed By The Wayside, and was struck by the power that we all hold to bless or curse, to include or exclude. Historically, Wayside has embraced those cast out by society, welcoming interracial couples, people of diverse religious backgrounds, and the LGBTQI+ community, and challenging social taboos. Despite the progress, shadows of exclusion still haunt us, revealing society’s sophisticated yet persistent dividing lines.  Saying “yes” offers healing to hearts that bears the scars and pain of exclusion. This simple affirmation can begin to mend the shame and self-hatred that condemn many who find themselves here.   

At the heart of our mission is the question, “What would love do?” It’s the most profound and challenging question for anyone to be confronted with. It shakes us from the autopilot of our lives and invites us to a deeper and more authentic response, often revealing our true purpose in life. It’s demanding work, yet it makes all the difference. I saw it in action when my “aunty” gently forced the young man to sit and eat, hovering over him with arms crossed. You could see her big yes to him was exactly what he needed at that moment. As she fussed over him, a few silent tears formed in his eyes, and I was reminded of the wise saying, “The young who has not wept is a savage, and the older who will not laugh is a fool” that I was seeing being played right out front, by the Wayside. 

Thank you for being part of the Inner Circle,  


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

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