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Thursday, December 13, 2012

From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long

Dear Inner Circle,

What could be better than to start your day with a discussion like I just had out the front of this building? I was talking with a lovely 79 year old sausage about how the world has changed in his life time. He's spent all of his life within walking distance of the Cross. He was an only child and so his company as a kid was a horse, a goat, two cats, two mice and another horse that belonged to his father. He lived just off Parramatta Road! There was no plastic in his day. No one had a fridge, everyone had ice chests. This man's father only shook hands with his son once, at his 21st birthday. It was the only time they touched. All his working life, this fellow was a self taught panel beater and he worked hard. He always loved Kings Cross. He loved that it felt like it was a bit of a naughty place and took pride in telling his friends that he spent his weekends at the Cross. He was brought up a strict Catholic and he talked of being belted by nuns for not being able to read. "The stupid part of that was, that I could read. I read all the time at home to avoid the rows between my parents. The problem was 'terror'. Terror held me back so that I couldn't perform even when I knew my stuff. One of the beltings I got left a mark on my chin that took years to go away." While this fellow calls a spade a spade, he isn't bitter. He just knows that life was different not long ago. He comes to Wayside only for company and for cheap food. He said, "Like it says in the gospel, or some holy book or other, 'No one knows the day or the hour.'" It is his way of saying that life is too precious and too short to be bitter. He loves Wayside and always has, "In this place, care seeps into your body by osmosis," he said.

I sent a note this week asking you to 'Donate a Plate' for our Christmas Day Street Party. I don't normally ask for help with this event but the increasing costs and the ever growing burden of bureaucracy will one day kill this event. For now, and the next few years, we're pressing ahead and we'll cop the financial burden. I hope you don't mind that I've given you the opportunity to 'Donate a Plate' on behalf of yourself or a loved one. You'll be helping us to put on Christmas lunch for 600 of our nearest and dearest. You can donate a plate here.

Tuesday was a magnificent day at Wayside as a group of our people harvested our first honey from the hives in our garden. I think we harvested about 8 litres of honey. The best part of this event was the beautiful expressions on people's faces as they forgot all their troubles and learned how to harvest the honey. Wayside honey is here! What a buzz!

The Wayside "No Bell P*ss Prize" is awarded jointly this year to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. I have far more respect for politicians than most because I've seen from close range just how hard they work. However, the competition to see who can be the meanest to asylum seekers has not only been unseemly but it has damaged the Australian soul. We are a more hard-hearted Australia at the end of 2012 than at the beginning.  Labour came to power with a promise to treat such people more humanely and so this year has been a bitter disappointment. This Christmas season we should remember that although Mary and Joseph weren't boat people, they were donkey people, and their status was similar. We should ponder that perhaps our country's salvation, maybe a future prime minister, is currently on a boat headed for Australia. If only we acted like the shepherds or even the wise men (and women) instead of like Herod whose insecurity led to pointless cruelty.

Here is a note from a 10 year old girl that came yesterday. "My life is so bad and so sad. We carry bags in the streets and stay at different places trying to find a home. We sometimes have blankets and sometimes have no food because we are homeless. I love my Mum and she smokes cigarettes because she is stressed because she is trying to protect us from other people who take drugs. I love my Mum." It's a tough time of year for some.

I'll send a note next week and then I'll give your inbox a rest for some weeks. I'm writing a book and hope to head off to a quiet place in New Zealand to get my manuscript ready to submit. More information on this project next year.

Until next week, our deepest thanks for all your good will and for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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