21
Sep
2017
yPevU
Dear Inner Circle,

After much consideration and with the sincerest belief that the next ten years should be our strongest, I have informed the Board of Wayside and the Uniting Church that now is the right time to start looking for the new person to lead Wayside. This is not a sudden decision, but the result of consultation and careful planning. Uniting Ministers negotiate their placements every five years. Currently, I have served for 14 years and my term is due to cease at the end of 2018. Succession is a most important matter and given the history and trajectory of Wayside, it is vital that we achieve a smooth generational handover. Making the decision now allows us to conduct an appropriate transition.

I have made the decision knowing in my head and heart that this is the right time.

When I was first employed at Wayside our building was rubble, our finances were difficult at best, and we had a tiny team of staff. We have come so far. With the help of volunteers, staff and our supporters, the next generation of Wayside’s leaders can take our mission further and deeper into the community. This is important, not just for the sake of Wayside as an organisation, but for the sake of the people we serve and for the people whose humanity flourishes when they get involved with us to create a community of no ‘us and them’.

Keep reading here.
14
Sep
2017
IMG_4320
Dear Inner Circle,

A relationship exists between humour and suffering. It’s not that suffering is funny, but that there is something awesome about the human spirit that learns through suffering to recognise the humour. It’s the joy of declaring that the “emperor has no clothes,” or the joy that comes from just the sheer presence of others. At Wayside, it is among Aboriginal people that you will most often find sharp cries of pain but also the resounding sound of laughter. This week I was invited to our ‘Mob Lunch’, run by our Aboriginal Program Manager, Mon. This weekly event is so much more than just an opportunity to eat a meal, it’s a marvellous exercise in community development and brings together rich diversity of stories and people sitting side by side. I ended up next to a fellow with a dry sense of humour who began to tell me how to cook an emu. I’m wasn’t sure how seriously to take the cooking advice but I asked questions like, “How do you catch an emu?” A detailed explanation was given about how you entice an emu to come to you. He then described how to leave the animals above the fire, so that when smoke emerged from its mouth, you’d know it was cooked. Still unsure if any of this was serious, I asked how the cooked emu tasted. My mate said, “Oh, it tastes just like wombat!” I think when I left the room, I might have been the joke.

Minutes ago, I was in our café. I began a conversation with a lovely bloke who started to share how deeply he’d been in the grip of depression. We were joined by another lovely old fellow who jumped into the conversation. His voice is rather loud and so it was not a contribution that could be ignored. The new fellow to the table was not in any way psychotic and yet his contribution bore no connection to the conversation into which he jumped. I asked several probing questions in the hope that there might have been a connection that I couldn’t quite make out. There wasn’t. We were then...[read more]
07
Sep
2017
IMG_4275
Dear Inner Circle,

Grandchildren give away family secrets without knowing it. One of my babies asked as we got into the car, “Can we go speedy of one hundred?” My reply was something like, “It’s my job to keep you safe sweetheart, so we won’t be going too fast”. She answered that with, “Well, Mummy does!” Another time, our four-year-old hopped into her seat and said, “Shall we keep our windows up so that people don’t hear us yell, ‘IDIOT!’”

Just ten minutes ago, a tall fellow in a large cowboy hat approached me out the front of Wayside. I expected him to bellow at me but instead a soft voice said, “I need a blessing. Can you do that?” We walked to the Chapel and sat awkwardly looking at one another. In these situations, I’m always shy about leading people to believe in magic. Any blessing is just a feature of a relationship. With some trepidation I asked, “Why are you needing a blessing?” I expected to hear a story of a looming court date or some health crisis or even just a naive hope that good can be conjured, like a rabbit out of a hat. To my surprise the softly-spoken man said, “I just want to know there is something outside of me; something bigger than me”. We held hands while I recited some ancient words. The big bloke seemed relieved and thanked me. We’d never met before today, but we both walked away changed and lifted.

Keep reading here.