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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tales from The Wayside

Graham long conducting his Niece;s wedding on a NSW beach last year
Dear Inner Circle,
My heart broke last night as a man in his thirties explained his life of addiction. The sheer misery of begging for money every morning, afternoon and evening has left him without a friend in the world. He never laughs. There is no pleasure in his life. There is no joy even when he has enough money for the next tablet. The drug only stops the cramps and the runny nose. I said, "This doesn't sound like much fun. Don't you ever wonder about how life might be if you were free of this addiction?" He looked me in the eye, which is something that he doesn't do much. He said, "I promise you that this is no fun. But, I gotta do what I gotta do." I saw him first thing this morning at the station darting in his busy but unfocused way, looking for someone who might give him a dollar. I couldn't help but see that the man was about the same age as my son and the sadness of a life wasted, was overwhelming. I hope this dear boy gets sick of feeling sick someday and decides to seek help while there is still a chance.
There is a dear old thing that saves newspaper items for me. He brings me usually one sheet of paper on which he's made notes, the significance of which is always lost on me but on each occasion there seems to be a real sense of occasion. The dear man presented me with a paper yesterday complete with his handwritten commentary. The problem is that on both sides of his paper he'd written, "turn to the other side". As he tried to explain the depth of his insights, he came to the instruction to turn the page over, which he did and that lead to a new explanation of some profound point that lead to the instruction to "turn to the other side". The double instruction written in his own hand, really upset and confused him; in exasperation he said, "it says something about madness!" and walked away.
Our theatre production, "Stories from the Wayside" is going to be a hit of some magnitude. The actors are excited and moved as this thing comes together. Of the people who bought the book, nearly all expressed surprise at the quality of its production. People who come to the play are going to be equally blown away by the profound experience that will unfold before them. This isn't a play that has come from someone's pen but rather it is the unveiling of real stories of real people whose stories are astonishing. I doubt that this thing could be written. It's too real. It's also uplifting and will inspire everyone who attends. One of our staff saw 12 minutes of rehearsal the other day and came away in tears. Someone asked me if this is going to be OK for their children to attend and I told them that I thought it would be. I need to send out a warning that there will be some language involved and that parents need to use their judgement on that account. You can get your ticket on line at
Yesterday one of our regular visitors had a birthday. He says that he doesn't know his age. As it happened a neighbouring restaurant delivered to us a massive mud cake. As we were lighting candles and getting ready to sing, David Wenham walked in and joined in singing happy birthday to our dear mate. It was an amazing and moving moment. I heard him say later outside, "David Wenham sang happy birthday to me today" and the reply was, "bulls***t". It could only happen at Wayside.
Thanks to the many hundreds who came to our Open Day last Sunday. What a great church service; how good are the Honeybees and how lovely was it to see Katie and her little girl Lilly sing; one lady came to me afterwards in tears and told me that she'd always been told that she was not worthy to take the eucharist, "and you said that I was OK." And OK she most certainly is. I had to explain that, 'charis" comes from the word for "grace" and "eu" comes from, "eu little beauty!"
thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Footnote Graham Long  is Pastor of the Wayside Chapel in Sydney's Notorious Kings Cross. This is this weeks email. Note Graham's son Jamie died about a year ago from various complications of his health.

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