Dear Inner Circle,
My heart is heavy after a discussion with a man (maybe 30 years old) for the past hour. A history of sexual abuse has set him off on a campaign that has become all consuming. There is something healthy about this struggle although he seems to have forgotten the good ("Justice" I presume) toward which the battle was directed. I suspect that there isn't a shred of belief, even in the idea of justice any more. So his combat now is with everyone who breathes and while he can talk all day about his struggle, he can't say what he hopes to achieve. He's become an "I" faced by no "thou". The man is not hard to like and we even had moments of "glory". I mean by "glory", that I could feel something of the wonder that his father ought to have felt when he gazed upon this kid growing up. This phenomenon is at its strongest when I cup my hands around the face of my grand daughter and see that my son, her daddy, is present. So, this fellow had no interest in me except to the extent that he could engage me in his battle. He will win no prizes for strategy because he seems to have the knack of turning everyone away. Even people who want to help him are soon drained and looking for an exit. Around here this week, you can see him get and give the 'cold shoulder' to everyone. His arms are a mass of scars from self harm. I desperately wanted to ask the man if he wanted to live but today he would have heard judgement in the question and I wouldn't hurt him for anything.
I was called to a death bed this week and stood with a man who had to part with his wife of nearly 50 years. These two had managed to stay in love and dote on each other for all these years and now they faced the unfaceable. As I held his hand and hers, I sang, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness O God." It surprised me and the husband that I broke into song and while it was not an aesthetically pleasing moment, there was a strong sense for us that their love would remain, even beyond death. I've learned from some of my African friends how beautiful it is to sing to the dying.
Gosh, our play, Stories from the Wayside is a sell out! We've extended the season for a week so that now the last show will be on Sunday evening 4th September. I've only seen minutes of this thing but it was enough for me to know what an astonishing event this will be. It's raw, real and a tribute to beauty that will take your breath away. We've had some major sponsors who made this possible and our thanks goes to, "Blueprint/gifts.com.au", "Man", "Orion asset management", and "Propex". Our thanks also goes to all the supporting sponsors, "Actors Centre Australia", "Griffin Theatre Company", "Mango", "Megadeck", "Officeworks", "Pages Event Hire", "Seat Advisor", "Southern Colour", "Sydney Theatre Company", "Tamarama Rock Surfers" and "2SER". Our friends David Wenham and Claudia Karvan have also lent their weight to the event and I don't doubt that everyone is going to be pleased that they had a part to play in this stunning phenomenon. I would like to acknowledge the giant efforts of Gus Anderson without whom this play would have remained only a good idea. There are tickets available for some shows still on http://www.thewaysidechapel.com/.
A mate of mine came to the "soft opening" of our building and must have thought that I looked tired. He offered to take me gliding. I jumped at the chance for such a complete break away from Wayside. Since I said I'd go, I've been pondering about being 10,000 feet in the air without an engine. I'm sure this will seem like a good idea once I'm safely back on the ground. Next Wednesday is the day.
As I was heading up to write this note, a lady walked out of our new cafe and said as she passed me, "Jeez, things are going downhill around here!" I was at first shocked because street people have unanimously expressed thanks for the improved facility of this building. Before she'd disappeared from view, I yelled out, "Thank you". No doubt she thought I was being sarcastic but I really did want to thank her for reminding me that I'm free from the need to be just that little bit wiser than everyone else around me and for that reason, I'm having a good day.
I hope all of you, our inner circle, have a good day too,
Rev Graham Long
The Wayside Chapel
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Footnote: Graham is a friend and relative by marriage of our family.