Thursday, February 18, 2016
From the Wayside Chapel by Rev Graham Long
Dear Inner Circle,
“Torrid” is one way of explaining life here just lately. We had a fellow attempt to take his own life with a rope although he fell into the capable and compassionate hands of Una before he came close to doing himself damage. Another dear lady, under the influence of ICE, suddenly produced a knife and threatened two of our staff. The saddest part of this situation was that she was threatening the person who loves her in this world the most. I’m thankful for highly trained and disciplined staff members who handled this according to long-practiced policy. The person was soon enough contained behind a locked door. Police responded quickly and soon enough the lady was in custody and on her way to psychiatric help. To top off a busy few days, on Sunday while our little church was on, a lady at our front door suddenly produced a knife and cut her own arm open causing a dramatic, spurting bleed. If that was me, I would have fainted, but this lady ran, fast. Our staff who were concerned that excessive blood loss could be fatal, also ran, fast. The outcome was a quick resolution where medical care and psychiatric care were put in place. Fabulous work on the part of all our people but you’ll understand that while they look pretty relaxed, they are on their toes all the time.
Quite often, members of our inner circle write back to me with stories that resonate with something I’ve written. I have to share this one with you (with permission) because it made me laugh out loud.
I always love reading your "Inner Circle" letters. When I read your comments on rules in the latest one, "wisdom is a tricky business", I thought you might enjoy this little story. I went to mass yesterday for Ash Wednesday and because it's a day on which Catholics come out of the woodwork to go to church, the church itself filled up quickly and the overflow was directed to a hall underneath. We were sitting on chairs waiting for the priest when a nicely dressed man standing towards the back (a church warden apparently?) said in a booming voice, "Please turn your phones off. It's rude to have them on." ...so far so good... "And if you don't like our rules, you can f*** off." Well, that's telling it like it is! (A few more interjections made it clear he probably had some kind of mental health issue. To state the obvious, one hopes that those outraged by the breaking of rules about appropriate language in a church could look past that.)
Do you want to be part of Wayside history? Over the past few months we’ve been working with renowned photographer, Gary Heery, and creative director, Andrew Henderson, on a follow up book to Stories from the Wayside. Our last two shoot days for the book will be next week so it is your last chance to be included in what will be a stunning book, celebrating the sometimes raw, sometimes confronting but always awesome and beautiful community. We extend to you, our inner circle readers, neighbours, volunteers, supporters and visitors, a warm invitation. Final shoot days are Wednesday 24 February from 11am to 2pm at Wayside, 29 Hughes St, Potts Point and Saturday, 27 February from 10am to 3pm at the Kings Cross Markets, El Alamein Fountain. We’d just love to include you what will be an important snap shot of our history.
We’re on the hunt for a Direct Marketing Manager to develop and drive direct marketing programs across multiple channels. Applications close this Friday so if you or someone you know is interested, find out more information here.
Walking in the front door this morning a lovely, gentle Aboriginal man stepped over to me to shake my hand. A rather lovely woman that we only see once every few months also walked over and gave me a hug. A group of four men interrupted their conversation long enough to each shake my hand. As I passed them and was near the door, one of them yelled, “So are you busy today, Rev?” “Well,” I responded, “that is the impression I’m trying to give”. One of them came back with, “You mean ‘that’s the illusion you want to create’”. I walked through the door with all four of them doubled over with laughter.
We shed more tears here than in your average community. Often tears of laughter and sometimes they express unspeakable sadness. It’s what we do. We stand with those who are discarded or irrelevant. We stand with those who just couldn’t cope in this high tech, low human world, in order that no one will be alone. This is not an act of charity on our part but rather is an acknowledgement that our deepest need is to belong to one another. We not only stand with the ‘down and outs’ but we stand with the ‘up and outs’ for every act of racism, every act of snobbery, every act of blindness gives the illusion of 'them and us' but the deepest, truest, highest thing we know is that there is just 'us' and when one is hurt or devalued, all are hurt and devalued.
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
Rev Graham Long AM
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel