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Thursday, October 3, 2013

From the Wayside

Dear Inner Circle,

Preventing a major life crisis can be a simple matter. Last night I sat with a woman who, in the past, had lost several years living on the street in a drunken haze and copped all the indignity that comes from a life on the street. She's reconciled with her family and has lived a productive life in the past few years. Last night she walked into my office anxious. She has good reason to be anxious but it became clear enough that it was leading her into a kind of paralysis. She's stopped eating. As we talked she kept burping in a way that interrupted her speech and looked painful. She spoke her worst fears and somehow trusted that I wouldn't belittle her by suggesting "solutions" and nor would I be overcome with the bleakness of her situation. When she walked out of my office nothing had changed except you could physically see that a burden had been lifted. She said, "All those years ago I reckon I allowed things to go on until I was overwhelmed and eventually had no other option but the street. The difference now is that I've got someone to talk to." You know what, not all of the time but most of the time, I think it is that simple. If we can overcome our instinct to "fix" people and instead allow ourselves to be alongside, most people will find a way forward or at least find the next step and that part of their burden which seems to be the darkest will be lifted when they feel they are not alone.

A woman living on the street sent me a message on Facebook last night. "Quick send me a bible verse," was the message. She doesn't own anything except a mobile phone and that is glued to her hand. She didn't tell me anything about what her sudden need was for a bible verse. I sent back, "When you pass through the fire, you will not be burned for I am the Lord the holy one and you are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you." I saw her on my way in this morning and she kissed me on the cheek and said, "Perfect". I still have no idea what drama she was living through last night.

Malcolm Turnbull will be the speaker at our next night at the Imperial Pub in Paddington on Sunday, 20 October at 6pm. I'll probably steer him away from politics if possible. I'd like this to be fun for him as well as for the rest of us. If you're inclined to want to score political points or whinge about the state of the world, I'd prefer that you do not come. He said on the tele recently, "I'm more sure of Malcolm and Lucy than I am of just Malcolm". His statement wasn't picked up but I thought it was lovely and I'd like him to start there (if he's willing) when he talks with us. Arrive about 6pm and organise food and a drink, Malcolm will talk, followed by Q and A and it will be all over at 8pm. Numbers really are quite limited and it is essential that you register your intention to come with Guy Cooper.

I am going away for the next two weeks which means there will be no note to the inner circle. I'll be off to Adelaide on Saturday where I will conduct the wedding of my youngest brother. A gathering of the Long clan will be noisy but it will be lovely to see everyone again.

Behave till I get back. Thank you for being part of this inner circle,

Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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