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Thursday, January 23, 2014

From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long

 Graham Long is a Family Friend and brother of one of our in law relatives.

Dear Inner Circle,

Here’s a first! A note came to my desk yesterday with $30 in it. The note said, “I stole a bag from the front of your building yesterday and I didn’t realise that there would be money in it. Could you please find whoever lost their bag yesterday and give them back this $30. I’m keeping the bag because I need it.” How quaint is that? We have a thief with a conscience. I’m not sure if the thief reads this note but if so, I’d like to express my thanks for being able to recognise how important $30 is to someone who has “fallen by the wayside”.

A man recently asked me to take photos of all his jewellery and to make notes about who will inherit it after his death. I took photos of each piece even though it looked like there was nothing of any real worth among it and I made notes about where it should go after the man’s death. Eventually I asked the obvious question, “Are you expecting to die soon?”. “Tonight,” he said. This was not my most comfortable moment of the week. As he told me of a life of physical and emotional pain, I felt something of a longing for death that actually made sense. It was sad to think a journey could be so unrelentingly bleak that there seemed to be no beauty and nothing funny left. I’m not sure what he expected of me but I reminded him that I have no magic powers. As much as I’d love to wave a wand and help the man fall in love with life, my only gift really was to be a tower of weakness by his side. I told him that I’d be off to Canberra and then South Australia for a couple of weeks and joked that if he wanted a truly classy funeral, he might like to hang on for two more weeks. As I said this, the man smiled and I saw enough of a glimmer of hope to make me think he’ll still be here when I get back.

Robyn and I are off to Canberra this weekend because I am nominated by New South Wales as a Local Hero finalist in the Australian of the Year Awards. Because I know well that there is no such thing as a single human person, I also know that there is no such thing as a singular hero. Every achievement is shared as is every failure. Provided everyone understands that this Wayside achievement is shared by my family, our board, our staff members, our volunteers, the many officials of the church who could have tried to turn us into a sausage machine but instead have encouraged us and celebrated our victories and the many people who I’ve met from the street who taught me about life and love, then, I’ll accept any award and I'll readily admit we are part of something heroic and that there is nothing more we’d love than for this to be seen as a gift to Sydney, NSW and the whole of the country. There are other worthy contenders for the same award so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. The ceremony will be televised from the lawns of Parliament House Canberra on ABC TV at 6pm on Saturday. It’s an honour to be nominated and it will be no disgrace to miss out.

Given Australia Day is this weekend, it seems like a good time to tell you about an initiative of a truly great Australian. Dick Smith has supported The Wayside Chapel since the 1970s and continues to provide significant donations on a regular basis. We love Dick Smith and we love what he stands for. This year, Dick Smith Foods will give away $1 million to charities. Where this money goes will be decided by people who submit a photo of themselves with Dick Smith Foods products that they have purchased. If you want to help Wayside receive a donation, send or text* a photo of yourself with a Dick Smith Foods product to, making sure you nominate The Wayside Chapel with your submission. Click here for more information. If enough votes come in, we could receive up to $50,000.

On Tuesday Robyn and I are off to Adelaide to catch up with my lovely old Mum for a few days and then we’ll fly to Port Lincoln and  drive for quite a way to a place called Coffin Bay. I’m not sure that even God knows where this place is but it’s a special place to a young couple whose wedding I will perform there. The groom is the son of my little sister. I'll be back the week after next.

With love from all here by the Wayside to you, our amazing inner circle,

*If you put our email address in the phone number field for texting, your message and photo will be received.

Rev Graham Long
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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