Dear Inner Circle,
David Gonski has been in the news all week and must easily be one of the busiest people in the country at the moment. His resume is so long and lists so many directorships that even he agreed it was ridiculous. Somehow this week he found time to speak at a fundraiser for Wayside hosted by Conexus Financial. Mr Gonski spoke about the importance of philanthropy and said, "In 35 years of doing business transactions I never experienced the joy that I felt when I walked around Wayside." What a wonderful tribute and what a fabulous friend of Wayside!
"I wish you had never been born!" What a devastating thing for any parent to say to any child. A young man told me yesterday that these were the last words he heard from his father before he died. I warmed to this guy, who has plenty of problems but who is aware of them and is doing all he can to keep healthy and alive. One of the greatest battles this fellow wrestles with is depression and the story he related about his father certainly plays some part in the weight that appears to rest upon his shoulders. Since I was a kid I seem to have a special awareness of how people walk. It's a dumb gift I suppose but how people walk into the room has always spoken volumes to me. The way this fellow walks almost defies explanation unless you can imagine 100 kilos resting upon his shoulders.
While I was talking to this fellow there was an Aboriginal woman sitting on the ground in our side lane. I could only just see her but hearing her was no problem. It was a dreadful sound of wailing interspersed with cursing. I couldn't go to her because the conversation that I was in was already on holy ground. I kept one eye and ear on the heartbroken woman on the corner and it pained me not to be able to sit alongside her. After a long time I saw one of the young sex workers get up and stand beside the wailing lady. She just stood beside her, rubbing the back of her neck and eventually she squatted next to her. It didn't look like much was said and after maybe 10 minutes the working girl got up and left. Surely that was a God moment. There were plenty of people around but the only one who heard this anguish and did anything about it was this sad but lovely girl.
Last night as I was leaving a man in a white business shirt and dark trousers stepped up and shook my hand. The man's face and eyes radiated heat that came from a full life. He'd called in to say "Hi" on his way home from work. Two years ago this fellow slept on the footpath in a perpetual drunken stupor.
Indira Naidoo recently wrote a book about gardening on a balcony. Some of you will know her from her time with SBS and ABC but she has a wide set of interests and skills. Her book sold out. There was a reprint which sold out. I'm happy to announce that Indira has become an ambassador for Wayside and will take a particular interest in all the work we do with people in and around our rooftop garden. Our garden isn't fully made yet but the part which is working is doing wonders for people. Yesterday, a man interrupted a meeting I was in with a beaming face to show me the beans and tomatoes that he had just picked. It was a good call on his part because the meeting can happen at another time but drinking in the sense of achievement on this man's face was priceless.
Thank you so much for being part of this inner circle,
Rev Graham Long
The Wayside Chapel