Thursday, February 28, 2013
From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long
Dear Inner Circle,
The things you do for love! Recently a young man died and it was important to his family that he be buried next to his mother and grandmother. If I told you how difficult it was to organise a funeral at Peak Hill, beyond the town of Parkes in country NSW, you would have all of us at Wayside declared insane. Not only is Peak Hill next door to nowhere but this man had no money because he'd spent nearly all his life on the streets of Kings Cross. Our aboriginal worker, Mon, has pulled strings, wrenched on strings and unwound strings to make the logistics of this day come together. Yesterday, three Wayside staff and I, made an 870km round trip in order to give a homeless man a dignified funeral with his family. I'll admit to being tired this morning.
Our reward for this crazy investment yesterday? We saw a brother and a father and a crowd of aunties and uncles break their hearts and hold one another in a ceremony that was as dignified as any member of the community could afford. I saw the fifty or so people that gathered, each embrace our Wayside staff as they all shared tears together. This sight alone was worth all the effort. A whole community trusted me to lead them in this rough but important moment because they knew that we loved their boy just as they did. They listened as I read from the book of Isaiah, "fear not, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name and you are mine…for you are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you." Perhaps we are a bit crazy, but on the day they put me out to pasture, yesterday will be one day I will remember. I'm proud to be a part of a team who will push to ridiculous extremes to show love for a young man whose tough life ended too early and for a community of people who had no money, no influence and no claim to fame except a love that is so deep it has to be seen to be believed.
Earlier this week, a voice yelled as I was going in the building, "hey Rev, how do you stop desire?" This is an amazing first question to a stranger, but I turned my head and knew instantly that this was serious and it came from a world of pain. I'd not seen this man before and I shook his hand. The touch of his hand was enough for me to know the dimensions of his pain. We sat on the seat outside our building and for the next 30 minutes this rather unwell looking man shared something of his hate of himself for the years of longing for what he could not have. While we were talking, a beautiful young girl, I presume a backpacker, walked into our cafe and eventually walked past us again and down the street. She was a stunning young woman wearing shorts that kept no secrets. The paralysis of the man beside me was physical. He couldn't talk; actually, neither could I. I told him that the desire in itself was healthy, but not when it was 'the one thing'. Addiction is a process of reducing all the good in the world to one thing. We discovered he did no physical exercise, he read nothing, he had no hobbies and he had few friends. I told him every man with a pulse knows something of his battle but the problem was not the battle absorbing him but rather the things missing about which he had no awareness. I offered to get him some more expert help but he stood to leave and I suspect I'll never see him again.
We had the pure joy of two little girls at our place last weekend. For a few hours we had the honour of caring for their 5 month old sister, who is old enough now to wake up and know that she is not in the care of her mother but has been kidnapped by two geriatrics. I'm usually pretty good at pacifying babies but this little sweetheart could not be comforted. At one point I looked at her 6 year old sister and said, "I think Mum brought home a cry baby" who looked right back at me and said, "I think Mum brought home the wrong baby!"
I'm thankful to find you in our inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
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