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Thursday, July 18, 2013

From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long

Dear Inner Circle,

What could be more wonderful than having a pair of girls giggling in your house for four days? Even though I am a grandfather, I've just spent the last few days playing games and having fun in a quest to celebrate being alive. For four days I pulled on all the doors that said "push" and pushed on all the doors that said "pull" and eventually looked at my girls in stunned confusion while they laughed like mad and tried to explain to me the difference between the two words. How priceless to go the McDonald's drive through and order a Chinese meal with the helpless laughter going on in the back seat. Eventually I had to apologise to the girls and to the voice on the other end of the drive through speaker to calm things down so that I could then order pizza. Our eight year old said to me, "Do you know the difference between you and me, Papa?" "No," I said. "I only make a mistake once," she said.

Falling in love with our girls again is to fall in love with their dad again (their dad, our son, died nearly five years ago). They have a beautiful dad who is worthy of their adoration, (technically a step-dad but in reality, there are no "steps" in love) and the most wonderful mum but in the way they laugh, the way they are up for fun at any time, their love of life and even the shape of their feet, a man they will never know is truly present.

Some of the people who inspire me the most are those who live with mental illness and find a way to cope and make a contribution to the community. I just had morning tea with a man of extraordinary intelligence who never-the-less has wrestled debilitating mental illness for about 30 years. He is well read and well informed on most matters of world politics. He is keen to add whatever weight he can to the quest to make this world a better place. His conversation sometimes flies out into the stratosphere in a bizarre manner and yet he fights to return always to the present moment and to keep continuity in our conversation. Although the words and thoughts jumped around a bit, a most beautiful face kept eye contact with me and his love of humanity and desire for justice was constant. He told me that he was going to have an early lunch at the Salvation Army and I walked with him, wondering if the Salvos really were active in this part of Kings Cross. He led me into Wayside. Perhaps I need a uniform. We pin medals on lots of chests of people who are just doing their jobs but I looked into the face of real courage just now and I'm in awe of a truly great Australian.

The hopes and dreams of people impacted by mental health issues have been collected and creatively transformed into a deck of 52 cards to inspire others to follow their dreams. The project, called the Deck of Dreams, is the brain child of our very own Jen Lee who works in our Day to Day Living programme. Each card showcases unique artworks depicting people's dreams. On the back of each card the artist has written a positive, real and inspirational message of hope. There will be an official launch of this project next week on Wednesday, 24 July in our community hall. You are invited to this event at 6pm. It's free with nibbles provided but we need you to RSVP to Bec McKenna. Click here for more information.

My book, Love over Hate: finding life by the wayside, will be in book stores from Thursday, 1 August but as a special offer for the Inner Circle, you can purchase a signed copy of my book a couple of weeks before it hits the shelves. Buy it here. From your purchase, 30% of the RRP will go directly to Wayside and it will be sent to you free of postage charges. We have a supply of books at Wayside now too so if you are dropping past during business hours, we can sell you a book immediately.

Thanks for being part of this inner circle, 

Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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