Dear Inner Circle,
A broken heart can work for you. A broken heart can be something akin to a friend.
If the heart of a parent who has lost a child can mend, then I've seen no sign of it in 3 years.
To see the world move on without my son in it, is both unthinkable and unstoppable.
To "move on" is the right course of action for everyone.
To talk to anyone about this daily ache is to place an unbearable burden on people
who don't deserve it and who cannot bare it. Yet to live with this unfixable ache is
to be ushered into life with surprising colour and depth. It lays bare so many of life's
illusions. So many lesser quests are revealed before your eyes with embarrassing clarity.
This unfixable ache renders language that is designed to impress and comfort and
intimidate to empty itself and hit your ears with a shallow, incongruous fizz.
The ache catches out my own attempts to impress, comfort and distract and reveals
them to me as pathetic and pretentious. Yet this unfixable ache, unshared and unsharable
gives me power to be present with others. The power of powerlessness is real power.
It is the power to see; the power to be present; it's the power to heal.
So, we had a lovely wedding a couple of weeks ago and the beautiful girl, that is
the mother of our grand daughters, married a fine, extraordinary man. To walk Sarah
down the aisle was an unspeakable honour. They make a handsome couple.
While mum went on her honeymoon, Robyn and I took the kids to Darwin
where nature was waiting. The crocs jumped, birds paraded themselves, frogs croaked,
flowers bloomed and it seemed like it was all just for our girls.
We created a week and a half full of happy memories. There can be no better job on
this earth than to be a grandparent.
I guess I'm one in a million that can say that a return to work after a break is
a wonderful thing. For all of its demands, Wayside is less work than caring for little kids
whose love fulfils like no other and demands like no other. A large man who is famou
for being difficult, greeted me yesterday by shaking my hand and then holding it.
"You know me" he said, "I cause trouble and I complain loudly about a lot of things",
his big eyes actually started to well up, "Well, when I heard about when you walked
that girl down the aisle...well...you know what I mean?" I thanked him for the welcome
and for knowing what made our last week so special. Another guy pulled me up and
ushered me around the corner. "Am I in trouble?" he asked. "I think I might have
disgraced myself here yesterday and that I might be banned." I brought a staff member
out to talk with him and the good news was that he hadn't done anything to disgrace
himself but the bad news was that he may well be banned from somewhere else.
I walked away thinking that this man’s every day is a bit like the day that lots of
people have after their office Christmas party.
Thanks to the hundreds of you who came out to see the premiere of the film "X".
My daughter was my date that night and parts of the film made me want to lean
over and cover her eyes and I’m sure there were parts that must have been a bit
awkward when sitting next to your father. Thanks to Jon Hewitt, the director.
All the proceeds from the event will support our work. The night raised about $6,000.
Special thanks to Mo and our friends from The Wine Society for supplying the bubbles.
Can I make a couple of Christmas suggestions? We have about 300 copies of our book,
‘Stories from the Wayside’ left. It’s a beautiful, tactile, expensive-feeling book that
would make a wonderful present. It's $88 plus postage. There are no plans to reprint so when they're gone, they're gone. You can purchase it here.
Perhaps an even better suggestion. I'm in favour of Christmas even though as
I get older it seems to come around every 3 months or so. Anything that stops us
from our frantic daily routine and offers us the opportunity to look around at the
riches we have in the people who make our social context, has got to be good.
Anything that causes us to buy cards and send good wishes to lots of old friends
and colleagues, has got to be a good thing. I'm in favour of Santa Claus and anything
that allows children to be children and for the rest of us to enter into,
even if just a little, the wonder of being alive that comes so easily to children.
I encourage the buying of gifts for children but discourage the practice of the "swaps"
that we call "gift giving" among adults. It’s a bit cheeky but I'd like to suggest
that you invite your friends who might give you a gift, to give something that
won't be thrown away in January. Invite people to give a gift of love to you by
giving to others whose need is real and urgent. There are many worthy places to
direct such a gift but Wayside is surely one such place. You can send this link to
family and colleagues asking them to direct a gift that would have come to you,
to those who have fallen by the wayside. You can use the same link to make a
donation on behalf of your loved ones this Christmas. If you're really keen
(and we love keen people), you can set up your own Christmas fundraising page here.
Christmas is an opportunity to rediscover the wonder of being alive and whatever
that means for you, I encourage you to act and to bring "goodwill toward all".
The Christ child was born through the most unlikely candidate in the most
unlikely context and maybe this year, through you and me.
Thanks for being our secret weapon, thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
The Wayside Chapel
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