Dear Inner Circle,

On Tuesday I had to duck out for an appointment and in the middle of the footpath, two blocks from here, I saw a fellow very clearly under the influence of some substance. I knew him by sight but I don’t think we’ve ever spoken. I crouched down next to him, hoping to engage in some way. “It’s got me Rev". Without thought I said, “Step one might be to call this thing by its real name”. Although we exchanged these syllables, there was really no conversation. The “it” that had him should be called severance or alienation. Eventually, I walked away a bit disappointed that I’d sounded so judgmental. The world is full of good people who use drugs. Humanity, for as long as history has been recorded, has used substances for various purposes. I guess there has always been some who fall into addiction. Addiction seems to develop when someone latches onto one good and calls it the whole good. In this way, I’ve seen fitness fanatics forfeit life and I’ve seen religious fanatics forfeit life in just the same way as a heroin addict. The problem isn’t in the substance but in what’s missing. Generally, addicts lack a balance of friendships, exercise, relaxation, play, learning, hobbies, sleep, religion or philosophy. It seems to me that the good of life is multiple and a good life is a whole life, with a balance of all these things.

Few announcements come with more relief than when I can tell you at this time of year that we reached our goal for our Winter Appeal. Every year we set our goal, and I think as the leader and someone of some faith, I ought to be pumping up our troops like a football coach, saying, “Come on people, we can do this!” The truth is that I’m the one on the team who is most intimidated by the task and quietly whisper under my breath, “Only a miracle.” So I pay tribute to our donors. Some of our donors are wealthy. I don’t think I’d met any wealthy people before I started work at Wayside. The only wealthy people I know have no trace of the attitude that you see in the movies. I don’t know any self-entitled people; people who think their wealth came because of some inherit merit. The wealthy people I know seem to know that every skill they have and every advantage they have, came as a gift from others. The wealthy people I know have a sense of awe about what they possess. They have a sense of responsibility, or perhaps it would be better expressed, that they are responsive to the world around them. I pay tribute to our thousands of medium and small donors. Some donors set aside an amount each month to give to Wayside. Many people of modest income truly inject joy into sacrifice. Some dear people send tiny donations where the postage costs almost as much as the donation itself. No matter how you look at it, Wayside runs on love.

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