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Thursday, September 1, 2011

From the Wayside-- Graham Long

Dear Inner Circle,
In the Cross this morning on my way to St Vincent’s, an older man came out of a cafe and
said, "You're doing a bl***y good job there mate, scuse the French." I looked into a face
that I'd never seen before and he said, "I know who you are." In the next few
minutes he summarised most of the wrongs in our society with a speech that
named drugs as our primary curse. He asked me, "Did you ever know anyone
that could use drugs socially?" I replied, "yes" and I think that might
have been my only contribution to the discussion. He said that he'd never
witnessed drug use until he served in Vietnam but now he is bewildered
to find himself in a community so obsessed with drugs. "You know what we
need Rev?" (there was no opportunity for a reply and it was perfectly clear that
he was going to tell me what we need). "We need clinics where addicts can pay $30
and get their heroin from a bl***y doctor, scuse the French. That simple move
would stop most of the bl***y crime around here. Drug pushers would have to come
to you for a feed because they couldn't afford to eat anywhere else. You could make half
of these coppers up here bl***y redundant, scuse the French."  He finished by saying,
"One last thing and I'll let you go. It's not going to happen is it? No way!
You have to ask yourself why wouldn't such a simple and obvious thing not happen.”
He drew his face up close to mine and said with his most earnest tone, "
Cause they’re all on the take aren't they? Anyway, I'll let you go.
You're doing a bl***y good job up there, scuse the French."
You could hardly call this a conversation but I felt honoured to have met this
dear old soldier and I respect his wisdom and share his bewilderment even
if I didn't have any chance to express it.
At the hospital this morning I met a beautiful girl who was crippled by an
aneurysm. It was quickly clear that she had next to no family support but she
was keen not to make a case for sympathy. Against all expectations the girl learned
to walk and is now mobile although she's so unsteady that it is hard to appreciate
what an act of bravery it is, just to take a single step. I was in awe of the tenacity
of this frail person and I told her that she'd done a marvellous job. "Well I had a lot of
help from my mother" she said. I was a bit shocked because it was obvious
that there wasn't much maternal care on offer. I asked how did her mother help
her through this rough period. She said, "She told me that I'd never walk again!
And I'd do anything to prove her wrong".
Also at the hospital this morning I called on the dear old lady that had been
giving me $2 each week for the past year. She is probably the heaviest
smoker that I've ever known. She always tells me that she "never drinks and
drives, she smokes and flies". They've discovered a "growth on her lung"
and so she has begun the long series of tests to determine what this is and
what treatment could be appropriate. She is frightened enough to say that she's
given up smoking on the spot but unable to really express her fears that it
might be too late. "I hate whingers" she said, "and I'm not going to start now".
She felt like royalty because of my visit. She announced to the other patients
in her room, "This isn't just a visitor you know, this is my Reverend". She stopped
each nurse who walked past and a couple of orderlies and told them that
I was her minister and that she was part of the "Biggest little church in the world,
The Wayside Chapel." It's a wonderful thing to see how such a little effort on
my part can bring such joy into a hospital room. What ever lies ahead,
I will stand with this dear lady. I'm so privileged to walk so often on holy ground.
I took my daughter on a date last night. We had dinner and a show.
The show was Stories from the Wayside in our theatre. The play is getting more powerful if that is possible. This thing will finish this Sunday and most shows are booked
out. If you're quick, there might be a few tickets available in the next few days,
check out the web site for availability -
Everyone is moved by this thing and confronted with the raw,
harsh nature of life but also the amazing capacity for the human spirit
to soar and overcome. It would be a shame to think there was one
spare seat between now and Sunday.
The Wayside Warrior of the Week Award goes to... (drum roll) (opening the envelope),
The High Court of Australia. When the policies of both major political parties
are poll driven, fear based, inhuman, unkind and insanely expensive,
it does my heart good to know that the rule of law is still important in this country.
Now let’s have an inquiry into why our political leaders set aside the
rule of law for David Hicks.
Well, that's my day so far. The rest of today is so busy that there won't
be time for me to acknowledge any response you make to this note.
I suspect I won't see the computer now until late tomorrow night or
perhaps Saturday morning. I will read every response as I always do and I will get back to you when I can.
Who in the world ever had an inner circle like this one? Thank you,

Rev Graham Long
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross
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