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Thursday, March 3, 2016

From the Wayside Chapel by Graham Long

Dear Inner Circle,

I’ve never done this before but below is a note I sent to all staff this week. Several people suggested that this note would be a helpful insight for you, our inner circle. I hope this note provides insight into Wayside and how we deal with extraordinary pressure but also maybe this could be helpful for any family or any organisation that likewise might be living through hard times.

So here it is… and…

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


To the whole Wayside team,

Our way has been torrid lately. I was whinging a bit about my workload to Mon the other day and she told me about how someone had just projectile vomited on her. It put my whinge into perspective.

You’ll wonder if our way could get any more difficult after losing two people last week but I bring you more bad news today. Tammy died this morning. Some of you will know that Tammy, being transgender, was brutally bashed on two occasions before her death. I’m told her death is not directly the result of the bashings but what a dreadful week was the last week of her life. I know I’ve just delivered a deep wound to the hearts of many of you whose hearts were already heavy.

This week, more than ever, we need to show kindness to one another. We need to allow more room for wobbles than we might normally allow. Many of us are grieving. There is a massive blessing for us who do this work, and if we’re doing it right, there is a massive heartache too. Especially to Una’s team in the Community Services Centre but also to Mon’s team in the Aboriginal Project and all those with whom I’ve shared tears recently, thank you for your lack of professional distance and thank you for your abundance of professional love. You inspire us and your tears set off a chain reaction of love in the rest of us. You each build my faith more than if Jesus were to suddenly appear before me. Actually, in watching you work, embracing the tough stuff, engaging in fun and pain, in celebrating small wins and in shedding tears for our losses, Jesus does suddenly appear for me and I am reborn and filled with awe.

Be on the alert for one another. Remember that multiple tragedies can have a cumulative effect. I urge each manager to do something with your team that gives room to focus on that which is fun and that which is beautiful. The fun and the beauty are always with us so we don’t have to invent it, just make room for it.

Remember too that it was never our task to fix anyone. Our task is to be alongside and when such a meeting takes place, people will fix themselves. It is right that we should feel pain. It is not however the pain of failure. The sessions we have when tears flow are our finest hour. Many want to judge Sallie, Tammy, Paul and the many others I could name, but when many choose to judge, we do not. We knew these people and we loved them. For some, the only tears shed for their sake came from our Chapel and your offices. That makes Wayside a special place on this earth.

What shall we do? Are there better days ahead? Yes, yes, yes. Amazing days are just ahead. What shall we do? I suggest every one of us hug Una and thank her for the job she does for the world and for the rest of us. I suggest we hug Mon and thank her for the job she does for the world and for the rest of us. I suggest we find everyone on both these teams and give them a hug and thank them for all they do to make this world a better place. We should thank them for being affected and vulnerable and responsive. I’m not forgetting Day to Day Living nor our Youth team nor our Bondi team. All of our programs is where the human rubber meets the road and this is a good moment for all of us to express our thanks to every person in every one of our programs.

Wayside isn’t a monoculture that we project onto the world. We are not an explosive device that is aimed at the world. We are a group who knows that ‘meeting’ rather than ‘fixing’ is the way to a better world. It means we actually risk a fair bit. We are prepared to lose ourselves to some extent in order to be part of a community with no ‘us and them’.

I wouldn’t work anywhere else in the world for any amount of money. Thank you and look after each other this week.


Rev Graham Long AM
Pastor and CEO
The Wayside Chapel
Kings Cross

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