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Thursday, July 11, 2013

From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long

Dear Inner Circle,

You cannot take what can only be given. You can extract endless experience from the world. You can travel around it; you can measure it, weigh it, name it, classify it but such an act does not come close to having the world give itself to you. You can extract experience from another person. You can become the expert among all the people you know and meet. People can be measured, weighed and classified but none of these things comes close to the act where a person gives themselves to you. The act of love is an act of self giving so love can never be taken. I met a brute recently who has raped in order to get his needs met. To his neediness however is added a truck load of emptiness. He's more desperate and more alone now than at any time in his life even though he has many children to many different women.

After 42 years of marriage, I've come to appreciate that a healthy relationship is one that moves from fulfilment to longing and back and back again. When I was younger, the 'longing' phase felt wrong, like as if something urgent needed to be done. I didn't realise when young that no matter how in love you might be with the other, sooner or later, someone has to wash the car or do the shopping. In my old age, I've come to appreciate that my marriage is tested, formed and strengthened in the 'longing' phase of our life together. What's true of relationships is also true for organisations although we don't move from intimacy to longing and back again but we move from "mission" to "wishin" and back and back again. No organisation can live in their mission. Mission is achieved in extraordinary moments and lost as it must be while real and unromantic work is achieved. There is nothing wrong with an organisation in a "wishin" phase of its life. It is in such a phase that the organisation is formed and tested and built. It's not the end of the world when "mission" seems far away. It's as healthy as it is for two lovers to be getting on with life but longing for their next meeting. So many people ditch their relationships in the longing phase and so many organisations wreak havoc on good people in their "wishin" phase. But ditching the wife or the leader and jumping forever into new projects is no substitute for the maturity that comes from knowing that longing and wishing are your good friends.

Last night it was cold and wet and Robyn and I were both hungry so we decided to eat out at a local restaurant. So many think that intimacy is something that happens in a bedroom but the conversation in the restaurant, over good food and a glass of wine rated a high distinction on the intimacy scale as did several conversations yesterday. A man who is struggling with many things yesterday finished his conversation by saying, "thank you for loving me". All real living is meeting.  On the way home home from the restaurant, it was raining quite heavily. I put my head down and walked briskly but decided to seek shelter under Robyn's little umbrella. Oddly enough, Robyn seemed shy to share her bit of shelter with me until I looked into her face and found it wasn't Robyn I was walking with.

Yesterday I was called downstairs by a man who was asking for prayer. He told me a story that is too traumatic to retell here. I had my doubts about the truth of the story but no doubt about the trauma that he was living through. If true it was dreadful and if untrue, even more so. A good looking man with a bodybuilders physique, was in a world of pain and we managed to get him scheduled and in the right kind of care. Although Wayside wasn't really the right place for him, he kept saying, "Where else would I turn?" I'm glad he had somewhere to turn.

Thanks for being part of this inner circle,


Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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